Newbie-seeking advice and help

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by RBMom, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    My gfc is 31 years old. Was in a sober house but got kicked out for drinking alcohol after being sober for 9 months. I let him stay here hoping that he would find a job and another place to live. He has no job, no car, no friends. He is on probation because of trouble with the law. He has also spent time in jail in the past. I've been dealing with these issues for years now. I've always helped him out with everything, hoping that he'd change and get on with his life. He has a terrible attitude. can't seem to ever take the blame for his actions, and won't look for a job. My husband and I have paid for all the sober houses he's been in and for all the places he's lived in and gotten kicked out of. My son had an opportunity to work for two days and used the money to buy alcohol and pot. When this happened we told him we wouldn't let him back in the house. He's been sleeping in the garage and coming in to use the bathroom and cook something to eat. Other than that we won't let him in. Something needs to change. My concern is if I throw him out completely he has absolutely nowhere to go and nobody to call for help. He has had issues with depression and threats of suicide in the past. My heart is broken and I'm havind a difficult time. Everything is telling me to let go but it's so hard... I appreciate any thoughts and advice. Thank you.
  2. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    31 years old. I'll be honest with you, that scares me to death. It makes me want to work that much harder to let go even more.

    This week, for my job I interviewed a man who is almost 62 who just got an apartment after being homeless for 12 years. From his story, he is a difficult child who got an dishonorable discharge from the Army, blew through $150K in an inheritance, gambling, in just three months and basically at this age, has nobody and nothing.

    This could happen to our difficult children. And quite frankly, I'm not in it for living with all of that on a frequent basis for the next six years---difficult child is almost 25---or 10 or 20 or 30 or more.

    So...let's say our adult children keep on like they are. With addiction, which is a progressive disease, it only gets worse without treatment. It is often said that active addiction leads to just three places: jail, institutions or death. I guess some people just wander around homeless and aimless for a long long time.

    The man I interviewed has serious heart problems today, his heart is functioning at a 15% percent level. His cardiologist told him if he doesn't get off the street and start taking better care of himself, he will die. So he has been off the street and in a federally subsidized apartment (he gets disability) since May and he has already lost 40 pounds, is doing much better and is a very grateful person.

    He said he finally was ready. Both of his parents are dead, he has a brother he says he "can't talk to" in Denver (wonder why???!!!) and no wife and no kids. Never married, never had kids.

    RB---what do you want out of life? What do YOU want? It's time for you.

    Today my son is homeless. He has been homeless 5 times in the past four years. He circulates between jail, homeless and rehab. AT least that has been the three locations for this past year. He has had no address at all for a year. He is homeless today in the town where I live of 120K people. He is a survivor. He has been homeless this past winter in a very cold temperatures. The first time he was homeless I could not stand it. I cried and cried. Today, I don't like it but I've accepted that this is his choice. There are many other options, and he is not choosing those today. Being homeless must not be that bad.

    How did we stop and why did we stop? Because we finally got sick and tired. My ex-husband and I slowly, slowly, stopped enabling him. It was a long way to here, but I worked hard to get here---very very hard---and my exhusband, who is in AA, got mad last June 2013 and stopped abruptly. He saw the physical evidence of our son stealing from him. That was his bottom. My bottom has been much slower in coming but today, my son cannot live here, cannot spend one night, cannot come here to watch the World Cup on Sunday like he asked me to do, cannot come here without an invitation. No dropping by.

    Why? Because today, it's more about me than it is about him. I care more about myself today than I do about him. I know that is a hard sentence to read. But it is true. I care at least 1% more about myself today. It's the 51% rule and that is how I live today.

    What does that mean? It means, when I deal with him in any way, my first thought is: What do I want to do? What do I not want to do? What is best for me? How will that affect me, my mental health, my emotional health, my physical health and my spiritual health? And then, if I think I can do and want to do anything that has to do with him, then I ask myself: Will that be good for him?

    I love my son very much and my fervent prayer is that he turn his life around. But that is something ONLY he can and will do, if he ever does, and it's not going to be through anything I do or don't do.

    So, I am no longer enabling him. Since he has been out of jail these past 2.5 weeks, I have seen him once, spoken to him by phone twice and have texted with him two or three times.

    Keeping my distance is best for me. I remain calmer, healthier and more balanced when our communication is short and infrequent. If he ever does decide to really, truly start on the road of recovery, I will help him.

    But until then, I'm going to stay a long way away, be supportive and encouraging and go about my life. RB, please don't take my words lightly and think that you and I are different. We are not. We both love our grown sons and wish the best for them. The only difference between you and me is that four years ago I went back to AlAnon really and truly ready to work the AlAnon program and achieve peace, serenity and contentment, regardless of what my son does or does not do. I assembled a toolbox, and every single day I use my toolbox to achieve a better life for myself. It has not been easy and the road is filled with fits, stops and starts, and sometimes I go a step or two back before I can go three forward.

    But it is worth it. The foundational premise of my recovery is this: I can't control another person. I have very limited influence over anybody. What influence I had or did have has long been used up with my son. He is a grown man, and he is going to do whatever he decides to do, until he decides to stop doing it. I have to live my own life. He has to live his. And I have to stop enabling, detach with love and accept reality.

    Warm hugs to you. I wish you every peace that you can find. It's very hard, very hard, but you can do it if you choose to.
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  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I agree with COM. Your son is over 30 now. He is a man. He has little motivation for stopping his lifestyle if you pay for him, let him use your house, probably lend him money and feel sorry for him. You should feel sorry for YOU for putting up with all his stuff for all those years. I'd say ALL of our adult kids threaten suicide and are depressed. I've been on this board for over a decade and we haven't lost one adult child to the suicide threats they make. Some have made attempts, many just for attention or because the money was cut off and we can't have THAT. Daddy and Mommy still need to pay for them.

    You can't help your son. In fact, in my opinion, by helping him like he is a little kid who can't do better, he is being told to just keep on what he is doing and you will make sure he has a bed, food, extra money (probably for booze and drugs) and no responsibility. The only person you can change is yourself and your reaction to your son. Do you not have other loved ones who need you? Our addicted and behaviorally disordered adult children tend to suck the air out of the room so that nobody gets attention but them. That's not fair to your other loved ones or yourself. Trust me, our adult kids learn quickly how to live on the streets, they hook up with other street kids, they know where to eat, they can get help. But it's on THEIR watch, not our watch. Some choose to get help. Some never do. But there is one universal truth...nobody can make anyone get better except that particular person. You've already given him chances and chances in rehabs and you have probably dug heavily into your retirement. I'm sure you are old enough now that you'd like to have a peaceful, fun time during those golden years. Do it!!!

    If you have never gone to an Al-Anon meeting, please go. Or get a private therapist for YOU. Your son is reaching middle age. He has to learn to take care of himself sometime. After all, none of us are immortal. If he chooses not to stop drinking, then he is making a decision to be homeless, miserable, jobless, broke and desperate. It is HIS decision. He can quit because alcoholics quit drinking every day. It's not easy; it can be done. But you can't do it for him and you can't make him choose a good life.

    My advice is to focus on your own life and your loved ones who are pleasant to be around and do not substance abuse. Gently let him go with love, but again in my opinion don't try to help him. You can't. The more comfortable he is, the less incentive he has to quit.

    Mucho hugs for your hurting mommy heart.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board.

    That said, I dont think there can be an in between with our adult kids. I have had two adult difficult child's in my life in the last 3.5 years and it has been miserable. One is my youngest son and the other is my SO's brother who I do refer to as a brother in law since my SO and I have been together for the past 31 years.

    Both of these two have wanted to pull a camper in our yard and live there. In fact my son brought an old camper there one day without us knowing he was going to do it!

    I wouldnt have been so against my son living in a camper on the land if he had his own electric and ability to hook up to the water but he never got that far. He just hooked a drop cord to my house so basically he might as well have been living in the house. Now I wouldnt have let my brother in law that close for love nor money when it came time to get him out. He was more toxic than all of our difficult child's put together.

    I think we have to live apart. This sounds incredibly stupid but my SO and I decided we simply couldnt live with my oldest and youngest son's anymore and we knew we could never manage to get them out of our house in a timely manner...time was very much of the essence when all this went we moved out. We rented our home to the two boys and we now rent a much smaller home and we are much happier. I dont recommend this to anyone else unless it is something you really want to do. I wasnt very happy in our house to be honest and this gave me a clean start over. (Clean being the operative word. My house was pretty much trashed from everyone living there and doing nothing for the past ten years)
  5. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    Thank you for your responses. I know it's time to tell my difficult child that my husband and I won't support him anymore. I've been crying all weekend just thinking about it and what's going to happen to him. So glad I found this help forum.
  6. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    I have thought to myself that this thing we have to do ... Separate and detach from our dysfunctional adult children might very well be one of the hardest things , yet it needs to be done. I found a book called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend helpful. Setting up boundaries is the beginning. You would very likely find it helpful to go to a Parents Anonymous or Al Anon meeting. Getting support from others will be comforting. Short term therapy for yourself or as a couple might be needed. But you have to make this decision to move forward. You are actually not truly helping him one bit by enabling him and are likely causing harm to yourself or even your marriage. This is too stressful for anyone. This is not your fault and there is nothing you can do to fix it. Life moves on and you need to move with it. My health has been rotten lately and I strongly suspect difficult child stress played a role in that. Don't let this happen to you. One day I said to my Higher Power....I release this to you...and I did feel better.
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  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member


    I echo what others have said, it is time to take care of yourself and find a way to live your life!! My son is 22, is currently in jail and has been homeless. Believe it or not they find a way to survive on the streets. I said to my son recently, when he was thinking of running to avoid being arrested, that I know he is a survivor but I dont know how he does because I have never done it!

    You are not helping your son by enabling him, and by letting him avoid the consequences of his actions.

    The thing that may help my son is that because of his legal problems he is now in drug court... he may end up doing real time if he doesnt clean up his act, but jail is better than the streets.

    What I had to realize is that I really cant help my son. I cant control or stop or have any impact at all on his drug use. That has to come from him. I can love him, let him know I love him, but that is all I can do.

    And believe me he uses my love to manipulate me into giving him things he wants..... I am learning to see through that and hold fast.

    It is an amazing feeling to get your home back..... when my son was living here I could not wait to go to work Monday morning just to get out of the house..... now I hate Mondays because I dont want to go to work.... my home is now my sanctuary!! That is the way it should be.

    And it is easier to live your own life when they and their misery is not right under your nose all the time.


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  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome RB Mom. We're glad you're here. You've received good advice from our warrior moms.

    It's very important that you make every effort to get yourself into supportive environments. What needs to change is your response and your perspective, do not wait for your son to change, it is up to you to change, he may not but you can and if you do, you will feel so much better.

    Read Codependent No More by Melodie Beattie as well as the books others have recommended. You may want to read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. You may also want to contact NAMI which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, they have excellent courses for parents. You can access them online. Al anon, Families anonymous and any 12 step group is invaluable as is private therapy or a therapy group with other parents.

    At this stage of the game it is not going to be about your son, it's going to be about you. Once you get yourself on level ground, get tools to help you not only survive, but cope well and thrive, get support, encouragement, empathy, understanding and nurturing, you will be in a much better place to make sound, reasonable, balanced and healthy choices for how to deal with your adult son.

    Keep posting, it helps a lot. We' re here for you. We understand. We get it. Hang in there. I'm glad you found us.
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  9. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I am so sorry you are in this place with the rest of us! But you found a good place to get support and strength as you enter this next phase.

    It is awesome that you know this. You are not helping him by doing everything for him. He has to grow up and take care of himself..that is the natural order of things. Some people just don't do it until they have most of our difficult children. And guess what..most of our difficult child's do do it (although not necessarily in ways that make their mommas proud) when they have to. I bet yours will too.

    Listen to RE. This is so importnat. You cannot control your son's actions or can't guide him, force him beg him or show him. If you could, he'd have a great job and a house and a car in a garage now, because you have already tried everything except for stopping doing it all. Stopping is hard. It is scary, and we second guess, backslide, cry, feel guilty, feel ike bad parents and failures. YOu need support to get through this. We will help, and you need face to face help too.

    And will feel better. Soon. Sooner than you know if you get help and stick to your plan.

    Hugs and good luck,

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  10. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    You are all so lovely and I appreciate your thoughtful responses to my post. Thank you for the wonderful suggestions you have given me.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Also remember one thing, well two things. Where were you and what were you doing at his age? I am assuming it wasnt sponging off your parents. Not sure how old you are but probably my age so you were taking care of your child by his age. Maybe working or going to school at the same time.

    Also remember that a man, and that is what we are talking about here, only feels good about himself when he can provide for himself and his family. That is a built in instinct. Think caveman. Me Man...I kill food...I build fire. Still having parents taking care of a grown man makes them believe they are not capable of taking care of themselves and that simply isnt true in most cases.
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  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Well written, COM.

    These are good things for us to remember.

    Remember Tish's post, about inheritance? $150 K in three months.... That's horrifying.

    Absolutely true. When I am confronted with what my children convince me is their misery and what I have to fight so hard to remember is their choice, it's like I can't think, I can't breathe or see straight. Recovering calls this state of mind FOG. It is good to recognize when we are in that panicky place and give ourselves precious time. We need to respond from a centered place of sanity and peace. It helps to know what that centered place feels like, so we can strive for those feelings when we are in the FOG. That means we need to take time. Even just a "Let me get back to you on that.", can make all the difference in the world.

    This is true, I think. It would always happen to me that I would see especially difficult child son as a young adolescent ~ as the child he actually was before the addiction. Over the years, our relationship became so twisted and nasty as to be unrecognizable. But somehow, I not only accepted that, but lost so much respect for my own child that rudeness or hatred or acting like a stupid fool...all that went by without comment.

    Addiction destroys everything it touches. Life and love are scrupulously honest things. We may want to love our addicted or troubled kids with all our hearts. We may even think we are handling the resentment well, that we do love them, that all we want is for them to be okay. But one day, just as I did, we really get it that the nature of our relationships to addicted or troubled adult kids are manipulative (on their parts and maybe, on ours too, I don't know). But I do know our relationships to our addicted kids become disrespectful FROM US TO THEM.

    I couldn't believe the truth I knew but was hiding from.

    I had lost all respect for my son.

    I trusted him to do the wrong thing, trusted him to be calling, when he finally did call, for money or to move home.

    I expected him to abuse me verbally and to think badly of me.


    A step at a time.

    And that is the only way out of it, too. A step, an idea, an insight, at a time.

    After being on the site for a very long time, I could see that loss of respect for my own child piece...and I could stop enabling.

    It really is true that helping someone do something they are capable of doing for themselves not only doesn't help them, but destroys something of who they are, of who they believe themselves to be, in the world.

    I am so glad you found the site.

    It has made all the difference in the world, for me.

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  13. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    My husband and I had a talk with my difficult child yesterday and gave him the option of going back to a sober house for more help. He said he wasn't going to do that. We told him he has until Saturday and then he will have to leave our house. This is killing me and I hope that when Saturday comes I will be able to follow through... This is a silly question but should I give him anything when he leaves- food, a sleeping bag, etc.? He owns very little and won't have a car, money, or absolutely any place to go since he has no friends anymore.
  14. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    I am very very sorry you are in this position.

    It is so important for him and for you that you follow through on what you said.

    I think it is fine to give him a few things. You can think about it ahead of time. Try not to spend too much money, to make him too laden with stuff (he'll need to carry it) and to limit it. A little food to last him a day is fine. A bus pass or train pass. A visa card with $25 on it. Stuff like that. He may need an ID wherever he is going.

    He has to take the next steps himself. They are not yours to take. Your step is to release yourself from taking care of him, to release him of the prison of your care. His step is to take care of himself. He'll have to learn how. Most of us learn best by doing.

    Many many hugs to you, mom. We ALL know how you feel today.

    Keep posting, keep asking. It will help.

  15. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    Thank you, Echo, for your suggestions regarding my difficult child. Appreciate you taking the time to reply.
  16. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    HUGS for your loving heart
  17. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    RB, I know how hard it is to say what you and husband have said, but I believe that you are right.

    Remember that your son is a grown man, and he must figure things out on his own. There is so much help out there for him to receive, but he has to want the help, and then he has to do the work.

    That is the ONLY way anything will ever change.

    Otherwise, you are like a gerbil on a wheel, going round and round and never getting anywhere.

    Remember, you are working hard to change yourself and your responses to the eternal bad situation, and it is not going to feel good at all. Lean into it, RB. Just write down what you want to do, and what you know to be true, and what you want to say and do, and keep it with you. Read it again and again. Let it sink in.

    It's time for him to step up. If you are out of the way, perhaps he can and will.

    Please keep posting here and know that we support you, no matter what. We know how very very hard this is.
  18. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

  19. RBMom

    RBMom New Member

    Thank you, Childofmine, for suggesting I write everything down and read it over and over. Great advice!
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    RBMom, this is the hardest thing any of us will ever have to do. We are all devastated by asking our adult kids to leave our homes. Please get some support for yourself before Saturday so you are armed with backup. We need all the support we can get to get through the kinds of choices we have to make.

    Is your son aware of shelters in your town? There are usually food banks as well. He can avail himself to resources, he doesn't have to live under a bridge, although some of our difficult child's do that too.

    Hang in there, we're here for you. Sending warm wishes and hugs for your hurting heart.