On difficult child and sisters...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I talked to difficult child last Thursday---good conversation---he called me on Thursday, not before, not after, like I had suggested. We talked about the World Cup, his plans to get into a 28-day program and then their halfway house in a city about 25 miles away from here, his efforts to get his depression RX, etc. It was a good conversation.

    When we hung up, I said, why don't you touch base with me next week? He said okay. I didn't go into the holiday weekend, my plans, his plans. I knew the day shelter was going to be closed for three days but I didn't mention it and neither did he.

    Today, he called again and we talked. He got his RX, saw the doctor, got steroids for poison ivy and chigger bites---he slept in the woods one night, he said---last time he will do that, he said.

    He was to call the 28-day program today at 2 as they asked him to. He also said he has a job interview if the program doesn't work out and is waiting on going to the night shelters until he knows more too.

    I didn't redirect, suggest---anything. I said: Sounds like you are making good progress.

    Later I said: I have complete faith you can do anything you decide to do.

    We talked about the World Cup again. I said at one point: How are you? He said: fine. I offered nothing and he asked for nothing.

    He sounded clear and good, and like he was trying to make things happen. I don't want to go all overboard here, but...perhaps he was "scared straight" a bit anyway, by the prospect of jail. And also he is having to go to two probations---weekly, local, for the shoplifting charge and state, for the felonies. He could be drug tested at any time, and he's back in jail.

    So, this is a good thing. A deterrent I hope.

    Anyway, we will see. Time will tell. I am going to keep the pace just like this. I'd like to talk with him once a week for a short call for now.


    I also talked to my sister tonight....and...she never said a word about the email I sent her nearly two weeks ago saying that texting, especially questions about difficult child and his status, and saying she is "curious" just doesn't do it for me, especially when we aren't talking by phone from time to time, like you would think sisters would do.

    Never said a word. We talked about everything else under the sun, and at the end of the call I said, "Well, I hope we can talk more by phone from now on." she said, "Sounds good."

    Weird. I am more of a let's-lay-it-on-the-table person, but I didn't force it.

    Who knows? SO said...well, she swept that under the rug didn't she?

    I don't know. I could have a faceoff with her, but at least I said my piece and I said it clearly and kindly. We'll see what the action is on her part.

    I am going to work to let it go. Maybe file it under: Families are Just Weird.

    I don't know what I would do---truly---without people like you all who really get it. I would feel half crazy, I know. But I know that you feel it, and you get it, and you understand. That is a gift.
  2. tryagain

    tryagain Active Member

    COM, I am cautiously encouraged by this news. As I wrote to Echo earlier tonight, I feel that we all claim a little personal victory when there is the slightest bit of progress in one of our difficult children. So I'm sharing in your news with warmest thoughts.
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  3. Stress Bunny

    Stress Bunny Active Member

    COM, you have some encouragement there as your son is moving in the right direction at least. That's hopeful.

    Regarding your sister, I can SO relate. I have the exact same issue with mine. When I need her most, she is unavailable, and in the midst of crisis, her contacts are all about getting information versus supporting me. As a relatively recent example, JT ended up in jail, and admittedly, I texted her to inform her because I was too emotional to really discuss it in the moment. She text messaged back, asking why, and said she felt bad. But . . . then weeks went by, and she never called me to check in even once, and never text messaged me either. Yet, I learned from my parents that she was visiting them and telling them all about the dumb stuff JT was posting on his Facebook page about his employer, insulting his boss, etc. These are things, #1 I didn't know because I am not on Facebook, and #2 my parents didn't know because they are not on Facebook either. So, I thought, "Gee thanks for gossiping with the latest JT dumb move news flash! She had time for that, but no time to actually call and check in to see how I was doing!" Ugh!

    I get where you are coming from completely. You need compassionate support from your sister, and she only shows up to get the latest drama news. That's helpful - not! It actually makes things worse. A good sister would call you personally and not only ask about what is happening, but ask what she could do to support you in coping with it all. She would offer to come and sit with you and listen to you vent, or drop off a meal or something. People do these things all the time when family members are ill physically, but when someone is having behavioral or mental health or substance abuse problems, everyone scurries away, leaving those who need them feeling isolated and even ostracized.

    I'm sorry your sister wasn't there for you properly. You communicated your feelings to her (great job!), and I suspect she did not respond because she realizes she hurt you and has some pride getting in the way of acknowledging that. Hopefully she understands your feelings and will be more mindful of them in the future.

    Whether or not your sister gets this particularly painful experience you are navigating, we do. We understand, and we care.
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  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm encouraged by your post COM, it does 'appear' as if your son is moving in a positive direction. And, you're doing an excellent job of keeping your boundaries intact while you continue to be supportive of him on your terms. Good job!

    I understand about your sister.

    I believe you did all the right things. You expressed yourself with clarity and kindness. She opted to leave it be. You let it go. Often, I think that is the only course of action to take, to make sure we express ourselves without an attachment to the outcome. What others end up doing is out of our control, yet it can be hurtful because we expect and certainly deserve more.

    I've found when folks are pushed into having to deal with kids like ours, with mental illness or any kind of "different" behavior, few have the ability to know what to do, what to say or how to act. I think what many people do is simply ignore the problem or distance themselves because it is uncomfortable for them. Some of our friends and family are just not prepared in any way to be able to be present for us, to be able to allow us to express ourselves and to be a committed listener for us. It's all out of their realm of normalcy and/or their ability to understand.

    It reminds me of the level of discomfort and avoidance often displayed around people who are dying. It brings up so many of our own fears and limitations, sadnesses and inadequacies , often folks don't know what to say or what to d0 so they distance themselves or act in ways that appear foolish and indifferent. That can be hurtful to those making their final exit.

    There is a Native American tool called The Four Fold Way which is for conflict resolution. It is, show up, pay attention, tell the truth, let go of the outcome. Letting go of the outcome is what we practice here a lot. It's tough not to take the actions or inactions of others personally, yet that's what is so hurtful

    . It sounds to me as if your sisters lack of response is about her and has nothing at all to do with you, she likely has no clue how to be with you around your issues with your son. It's out of her realm of understanding. I'm sorry, that is a painful realization. And, more letting go for us. Sigh. Life sure turns out to be about letting go a lot.............

    We have each other COM, and you're right, that is a gift.
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  5. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    RE, this makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you for stating this.

    Last night on the phone, my sister said: well, how are you? I said, I'm good, I crashed hard for about 24 hours after he got out of jail, but I'm back on level ground now, after going to an AlAnon meeting every day for a week, etc.

    She said: I really don't see how you are doing what you are doing. I don't think most people could do this. You are a very strong person, but I don't know how you do it.

    Hmmmm. I said: The only way I can do it is to work on myself to change my thinking every single day. That is the only way I've gotten to this place.

    We talked a bit about the last four years and the difficulty etc.

    I think her comments were more about truly not understanding how I can be in this place of dealing with this situation. She thinks I am different from other people. And of course, I am not. I don't believe I am different at all.

    I said, well you have a choice when you are in a situation like this one. You can keep on doing the same thing over and over again, with nothing working, and be completely incapacitated by the pain and grief of it all, or you can find a new way of living, and you can work for that change for yourself.

    I think that is true of anything. Over time, most of us come to see that this just doesn't work. And then, we are ready for something new.

    She would be the same way. But she hasn't had to do it.

    I think when people want to say, well, you're different and I couldn't do that and most people couldn't do that, that is isolating. That is not a good thing to say to somebody. It may sound like you are admiring the person on the surface, but really, it is not good to say that.

    We are all human, and we have all just about bled to death over the pain of our difficult children.

    I think we need to remember this when we are with other people who are going through different hard things. Like their parents' failing health. Like Alzheimer's. Like their own failing health. Like whatever they are dealing with that is hard. My best friend's husband has Parkinson's. He is 59 years old. Their life with this disease has already changed a lot and it is hard.

    But they are not different than any of us. They are simply doing the best they can in a very difficult situation that is going to continue getting worse and worse.

    I think we have a chance here to bring a strong sense of compassion to other people. We, as we work on ourselves, develop more compassion for ourselves as fully human, yet trying hard to do something very very hard. Making mistakes. Picking ourselves up and doing it all again, trying more.

    Many other people---including our difficult children----need that same sense of compassion. I see my difficult child in a new way today---and it's ever-changing. I don't feel the disdain, disgust and pure red anger I used to feel so much of the time, at him. I can get angry, believe me, still, but a lot of that anger has been crowded out by compassion for him and all he has lost and the fact that I believe he doesn't get up every day wanting to be a homeless drug addict.

    I love this. There is a slightly sad tinge to this, that I feel a distance between us that was not bridged last night by the phone call. I had hoped we would talk calmly and honestly and then, reach a renewed understanding. I was going to try to speak to her with vulnerability about needing to be closer and needing to talk more. I could have still said that, but I didn't. I guess it didn't feel right and I was too scared to do it.

    Anyway, like we say here, it is what it is. This is reality. Everybody is doing the best they can do, most of the time.

  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    COM, this is huge.

    He is having quite the adventure! From the way your post reads COM, your son is treating you with respect ~ but at the same time, telling you all the things moms want to know. This is a very different relationship, for both of you, than the one you described when he first came home. He is not blaming or demanding. I can hear the strength it took for you to stay steady, but you managed beautifully.


    However things work out this time COM, you will be alright. The interactions you've described with both your son and your sister speak of kindness and strength.

    You have become a force to be reckoned with, COM.

    You have worked hard, very hard, to come to this place.

    I am deeply happy for you.

  7. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is so beautifully true, Recovering.

    I think your sister may need time to digest these changes in you, COM. You have laid the groundwork for honesty and intimacy in your relationship. All good things take time, and this will, too.

    I am just blown away at how quickly the changes we make in ourselves reflect that better reality back to us almost immediately. And here is the thing: It is almost as though our increasing depth, our developing strength, are keying response from those same good depths in others.

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  8. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    COM, it sounds like you and your sister got to have a good talk, not everything out there, but some of it. What she said about not knowing how you do it is to me her way of acknowledging what we have said around here, that unless you have been here you don't understand, and she realizes that. She realizes she hasn't been there for you as she could have been. It's not much of an apology, but meh--it's something. It's strange how mental illness, substance abuse and terminal illness trigger that "contagious" response in others. I guess the bottom line is, families ARE weird, and my file on that is so full I can't stuff one more thing in it.

    I have been thinking often of how your son is navigating his somewhat unexpected release and your weekly phone calls. It sounds like just for today he is facing in the right direction and doing the next right thing, as they say. He sounds good, and you sound good. I agree with Try, these victories of difficult children I don't even know are something I celebrate deep in my heart. I'm so happy for you and your son today.
  9. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Add me to the folks who are so very happy for you, COM. There has been progress in so many areas.

    I, too, think your sister was trying to be supportive while not pretending she has a clue what you and your son are navigating.

    About twenty years ago, my best friend's (she is now deceased) husband committed suicide. I remember J sharing that her two brothers kept telling her, "You are such a strong person. You are the strongest person we know" while she was crumbling with grief. She said, "I just kept saying, 'No, i'm not'." I think they did not know how to support her except by letting her know they had complete faith in her - and she needed more than that. She needed them to sit up with her and talk and let her cry.

    And, they were hurting also and they were trying.

    So much good stuff has been posted in the responses - about outcomes. I want to memorize the Four Fold Way.

    Above all, I am encouraged for you and difficult child because things are going better for difficult child right now. His thinking seems to be in a much better place.
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  10. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I am glad to hear your son is doing well. Atleast as well as he can be.

    As for the sister, my family is the same way. They get mad and then refuse to acknowledge the arguments happen. After all these years the tension is unbelievable. Honestly I would just bring up the subject and discuss it with her. You dont want to have that wall between you.
  11. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member


    you are the clearest light in your family now. Because you chose to see, you chose to work, you chose to journey. Your son is struggling, and yet I see that he too is changing..without as much intentionality as you show, but still he is changing at least in his relationship to you.

    Your sister has not been in a place that requires such difficulty action yet.

    I totally get that. They were trying. They didn't know what to say. They wanted to acknowledge what she was going through, and they feared for themselves as well.

    People used to say that to me about difficult child as well.."I don't know how you do it". Uh....I don't have a choice, right?

    My sister, who is sole caretaker of her 7 foot 2 inch 400 pound severely disable 20 something son, hates to be told how strong she is, how brave she is, or anything like that. she is sick of it. Its all people say to her. I get that too.

    Yes. Cedar is spot on here. Your posts, always, speak of kindness, and often of strength. You have grown so wonderfully, like dawn.

    Please don't be angry at her about this. This sounds like some one doing the best they can, acknowledging you, being a little afraid...and desperately hoping they never have to find out if they too are strong! she is trying.

    Yes, exactly.
    I like people who are OK with death and dying. And I like you guys. Because trying to deal with the hard and unavoidable stuff thoughtfully, kindly, gracefully is part of a whole life.

    You got it, honey. Definitely file that under "families are just weird" in the big folder of "I love my sister and my sister loves me"

  12. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Thanks to all of you who are giving me different perspectives about my sister. I am overly vulnerable to her and her behavior for some reason.

    I think it's the "sisters should be really close" pink cloud. Same with the white knight on the white horse.

    Continuing to work on accepting what is. Life on life's terms.

    Be happy with what I have, right now, today.
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I think "for some reason" tells alot, COM. If you are concerned enough about this to do it, take twenty minutes or so and review your relationship to this sister. When I did that with my sister, I began to see, so dimly at first, that there were some serious flaws in that relationship. I was always fixing, always understanding, always advising, always welcoming.

    My sister's behaviors were forever "off", but I didn't let myself see it.

    My husband saw it.

    My children saw it.

    I would not see it.


    Part of what we are doing here COM is telling ourselves the truth ~ not just about our kids, but about the way we are being treated in all our relationships. I think you posted something similar once about the changed values in your relationship to your S.O.

    It is okay to look, COM.

    I found that I'd known it, all along. But just as it was with my kids, I believed that if I behaved in the best way I knew, the seeds of that relationship I was nurturing would flourish.

    There are some people who take every advantage, COM.

    And whatever you offer, wherever you are vulnerable? That is an opportunity to take advantage. I don't know why this is so.

    I only know that is what I see, now that I am looking.
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Reading all these things about siblings makes me glad I dont have any.