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Hello all--
I wanted to thank each of you for recommendations you've made to me over the last 3 months...I've read several books recommended by you that were highly enligtening (just finished 'When your adult child breaks your heart'-- thanks COM)....and have found out about resources like Families Anonymous (which by the way, I haven't found locally but still looking)...since so many of you are my heroes and have been working at this process of 'detachment' so much longer than me, so I wanted to compile a list for myself of:

1- can you share the 1-2 favorite most helpful resources you've used to understand what is happening with your difficult child?

2- what are the 1-2 things you do to take care of yourself during these times (I'm one who has a chronic illness that has been exacerbated by all the stress)--- we seem to have several runners/joggers- that won't ever be me...what do you do to feel better?

3- what have you done with your husband to help keep the 'love' alive and the bond between you growing even in the darkest of times?

4- what have you done to figure out where your higher power/spirituality fits into all of this? (e.g., I've tried yoga, really like it, and it seems to be really helping me when I do it)

Can't wait to see what you recommend!


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Let me try to answer your questions. Remember, this worked for ME, may not for you :)

1/Helpful resources: Codependents Anonymous, which was a huge group in a suburb of Chicago when I lived there. I got more out of that group than I ever got out of any professionals. Unfortunately they don't have CODA groups everywhere and not all of them that do exist are equally as wonderful. This group must have had seventy caring members who were so helpful and wise when I was falling on my face. Never could find another group that good once I moved to Wisconsin.

My second favorite resource was my psychologist who taught me about taking care of myself, not just everyone else.

Although both are in Illinois and I'm not, I still use Al-Anon (which is similar to CODA) and my therapist as my go-to people when I need to stop my stinkin' thinkin.'

2/Aside from working out, I love to read and write!!! I have a guilty secret. I fill up my bathtub with bubble bath, light scented candles in the bathroom and bring a book or my Kindle (yes, you saw that right) into the bathtub. I lean back and read, read, read. So far none of my books nor my Kindle have been destroyed by water. I guess if my Kindle fell in the tub, that would put a damper on my relaxing

3. I like to be near my husband. Sometimes we just are in the same room together and it soothes me. We do talk about almost everything. I make sure he gets a big hug and a kiss before he goes off to work every day. I love him very much and I want him to know it. That is easy for me to do.

4. I have taken a spiritual journey that started in my early 30's and I have decided through experiences, some which to me was "proof", that my higher power is always there, always with me, always with all of us and that he or she just wants us to learn how to love one another. I believe in karma, reincarnation, and certainly don't believe we ever cease to exist. This belief in karma, which was quite a long walk, keeps me mindful of doing unto others as I'd want them to do back to me. I did a lot of spiritual reading, tried many churches, explored religious studies, and came to my own conclusions based on experiences. Meditation helps me clear my mind and focus, but I'm only able to do guided meditation or my mind wanders like a two year old kid in a candy store :)
I believe that Buddhism is very wise and while I am not a Buddhist, there is much about Buddhism that I embrace and find comfort in. My spirituality really doesn't have a name :)

Man, Bits, you ask some hard questions...lolol.


Active Member
;-)....thanks, MWM....I remember that about you, you told people about Pema Chodron and I got one of her books I'm reading-- When things fall apart...and I've been taking lessons for transformative yoga (or restorative)'s very healing, focuses on meditation mostly but lately, I've been bad about doing it...I find if I'm too focused on difficult child and thinking through all of that, I'm less focused on myself and husband and then don't have the energy to meditate, cook, things I love to do...trying to find those tools that keep me focused on the things that will make me feel better, you know?...;-)...I'm struggling with my faith in general and find the principals of Buddhism to be very soothing and freeing...

just asking those questions keeping me up at nights so you can tell me how you've managed to go to sleep!...;-)...


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BITS, I think that was Recovering Enabler or Cedar. But I very much believe both of them are on the right track and their thoughts, ideas and suggestions help me often and a lot.


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Staff member
Good morning.

My most helpful resource for understanding my daughter was an 18 month program I went through which was for codependency recovery through a large HMO Substance Abuse Center. I had a private therapist and a weekly support group lead by a therapist. The information and support I received there literally changed my life. I learned a lot of tools to shift the dynamic with my daughter, I learned how to detach and I received continual support in doing so. I learned about the dynamics which surround parents and their children who are mentally ill (or dealing with substance abuse, but that was not what I was there for) All the therapists involved, and there were many, have extensive training in just what I was going through and it moved me from a helpless victim of circumstances I had no control over to a person who was empowered with information, support, resources and a whole new path.

Being here on this board and recognizing so many similarities in our difficult child's as well as how we parents suffer in so many similar ways helped tremendously. I found a place I felt understood and supported and that made a big difference.

I found an offshoot of NAMI and met with Social Workers there and took classes. The Social Workers were offering the same information and support as the therapists and this site.......learn to detach.

Probably the single most important thing I have done to keep myself healthy is acupuncture. It brings the body to a deep place of rest and relaxation. I've been doing that for over 20 years but during the worst of the process with my daughter, it helped tremendously to keep bringing me back to relaxation. I amped up self care in all areas, more exercise, more meditation, more sleep, I eliminated sugar, coffee, dairy, gluten and started a very healthy, clean diet. I have massages, do many nurturing things for myself and make my stress reduction a priority. Keeping myself in peaceful environments and keeping myself calm and comforted makes a big difference.

My SO and I have very good communication, so we talk about everything. He was a major support through the hardest difficult child times. We have dates. We go to the ocean or to the city every single weekend. We take either the whole day or the whole weekend and take off. We hike almost everyday, it is a good time to just check in with each other. We also laugh a lot, laughing is a great release and it's fun! He and I have a similar sense of humor so laughter has always been a big part of our life together. Leaving town each week was a big thing, for me there was something so healing about going far away from home, as we would get further and further away it was as if I left all the problems with my daughter at home........that distance really helped a lot.

I have always had a strong spiritual connection in my life. I have developed a strong internal life. I read a lot of books, (like Pema Chodron) which offer a different view on what we are here for. I believe in life offering us lessons to learn so that we are more connected to what we perceive as divinity. I view the issues with my daughter as an opportunity to grow, to heal, to learn and to help others. What has happened to me with my daughter and the choices I've made have brought me a new kind of peace of mind and clarity I didn't possess before. My strong intention at the beginning of the journey was to be able to have peace of mind regardless of what my daughter was up to..........and that intention has shifted my life in profound ways. I believe in doing no harm, having compassion, attempting not to judge, learning how to detach from outcomes, recognizing where I am attached and learning to let go because I believe in the Buddhist concept that suffering is caused by our attachments. I believe I (we) are here to experience love, to first love myself and out of that to love others........which sounds so simple and yet it has been the journey of a lifetime for me. I view the situation with my daughter from that spiritual point of view, to learn to love in a different way (and learning to love myself was the starting point. )


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I've just been learning to see things from a different perspective through reading through all the troubles and advice on this site. One of the things that has helped me the most is the idea that it is ok to think of myself and look after myself and even put myself first and treat myself now and again. For me that means small things like visiting a cafe with a good book and enjoying a pot of Earl Grey tea alone. Doesn't sound like much, but with the right mental attitude, and not allowing myself to feel guilty, it's very pleasurable. It makes me feel like life can be good, despite the worries and troubles. A philosopher (can't remember who sorry) said that happiness was like a jigsaw puzzle made up of so many pieces that there was always bound to be a piece missing. My son's one of the missing pieces at the moment (and my elderly cat who is suffering with arthritis and forcing me to consider euthanasia) but there are many, many pieces still in place. So, my recommendations, for what they are worth, would be to look after yourself and to think of all the jigsaw pieces that are safely in place. :)


one day at a time
BITS, every day I spend at least an hour on my own recovery. That is how I think of it. It's like part of my daily job. For me that means, going to an Al-Anon meeting, reading books, Al-anon or otherwise, posting/reading here. My blog for Lent has turned into another spiritual tool for me---getting rid of 40 things a day for 40 days. I also exercise. I do run (I'm slow!) and I do yoga, and weight lifting (two days a week) and work in the yard. Right now I'm doing a 7-part marathon here in my town, centered around coffee shops, and SO and I have been walking each "leg"---they all total 26.2 miles. We've done it over two months.
I go to church, and I try to do things for other people. I'm in grad school (one class at a time!) and I have my own business which keeps me busy. I go on little weekend trips with girlfriends. I am in the process of trying to get together for lunch, dinner, coffee with old friends again---for a long time I isolated because of the pain of difficult child and also the shame and embarrassment. I am very blessed to have a great SO who is also in recovery--he gives me tremendous support and lets me cry when I need to. I did get a sponsor in Al-Anon because I felt at one point I was unloading too much onto SO, and I didn't want our entire relationship to be about my wayward son. I also read a lot of light fiction, take bubble baths every night, try to get a lot of sleep, eat fairly well. I love sweets and that's my downfall! I also am finding that honesty is important for me. I don't mean telling everything to everybody but being more honest with myself, about what I want, how I want to spend my time, what is important to me. That is something I put on the back burner for a long time as I was a big people pleaser. I also write a lot of things down and post them where I can see them.

I believe changing myself and working on myself is a spiritual process. All of the things above are my tools. It is definitely a process. But I believe that using the tools mindfully and deliberately every single day is a must for change. I am committed to changing myself into a healthier person who stays out of other people's business, is more honest, is less judgmental and who is working to be a plus in the lives of myself and other people, instead of a minus.

I also believe that garbage in, garbage out. That is why I read and write a lot. It is reinforcing.


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Staff member
Great questions! I too have chronic health problems that are worsened with stress...I suppose most all are! In my case, one day instead of turning away from my Higher Power in anger because of having a difficult child, I did the opposite and said that it was too much for me and I give it all back to "Him." I surrendered. Hope that makes sense.

I can't remember the order of your questions...but can get most, if not all of them answered (I think).

My husband and I kept our relationship together by going on date nights at least every other week. We also took a vacation once a year, sometimes twice a year. Sometimes, they were just for the weekend. Often it took a lot of planning. We also had to go to counseling here and there...not for typical reasons, like fear of a break up. We wanted to go to coordinate how we would "parent" our difficult child. Since she is a bit older now, these things aren't as critical, but we still vacation and go out, etc.

I pampered myself with getting my nails done regularly and an occasional massage. I also love to read. It is a distraction. Sometimes when difficult child was really being difficult, I found myself ordering a lot of books!!! I have two very close girlfriends that I call when difficult child is being VERY difficult, but I have learned not to call too much, as it can get wearisome for everybody and anybody to constantly hear about her incredibly foolish and scary behaviors.

Spiritually, I like to watch Joel Osteen on TV, since he is very positive and uplifting. I also like to read AA literature, even though I don't drink at all. I just think their literature is very empowering. I went to a few Families Anon. ,tgs. And thought they were great...but didn't continue as most discussions were about drugs, and fortunately difficult child isn't into is mostly her mental illness and poor decision making that causes stress.

I use to read everything I could get my hands on about mental illness in order to understand my difficult child. day I decided to get a masters degree in a related field and I completed that a few years ago.

Now, I'm considering writing a book on personality disorders (not difficult child's diagnosis).
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Thanks to all for your ideas...another question I have is how to get through the nights? it's 4am and I was laying awake in bed since 2:30am, worrying about difficult child and if he'd ever realize how sick he is and the more I think about things, the more I can feel my body tensing up...the relaxation from sleeping gradually gets eaten away by the anxiety of worrying about difficult child...I can't imagine how you COM and others that I know have homeless adult children get through a night with the weather getting cold difficult child is at least in a warm bed (I assume) so that's not the worrying I have to focus on...I'm so sorry that all of us find ourselves in these situations...none of us deserve this anguish...I've never gotten a massage before though am big on pedicures! of my good friends kept saying she was going to treat me to one since all this happened in December but she's a friend who seems to have a hard time hearing about the difficult child siutation and it feels as though she's distancing herself from me...when we have talked in the past few weeks, I have not even mentioned difficult child and focused on other things but it hurts that she doesn't ask, doesn't follow up...didn't mean to get off on that tangent, just like the idea of a massage...maybe I'd at least get one night's good sleep!

hope all of you are snug and warm in your beds, dreaming happy things..


one day at a time
Bits I woke up last night at 3 and had a brief feeling of deep panic about difficult child. Then I turned my kindle on and read for about 10 minutes or so...light fiction...until I fell asleep again and woke up at 6. I started going to bed earlier so I can compensate for lost time awake. It used to be really bad but as my recovery progresses my sleep has gotten better. I used to get up and write it all out...brain dump.

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Staff member
BITS, I think the middle of the night worry is a part of this for most of us. I did that a for a long time.

Melatonin helps for the immediate falling asleep, herbal teas for relaxation and sleep help as does 5HTP. And, meditation, massage, acupuncture, reflexology, yoga, exercise, avoiding coffee and caffeine and avoiding sugar and alcohol too. Alcohol interrupts sleep cycles and things like chocolate (which I love) keep you up too..

For me, I had to do all of the above, over time, and each one of them helped me. As I mentioned in my other post, I think acupuncture helped the most because over time, it calms the entire system down and then sleep comes naturally, even with worry, and you stay asleep too.

If you find yourself up in the middle of the night, rather then focus on difficult child, start a gratitude journal and when you can't sleep, write in it. That changes the course of our thoughts and can have a calming effect.

My reflexologist recommended I take a Flower Essence for worry, in particular for worry for others which I have just begun taking since that is an ongoing movie for me with people I love. If you want to know more about it, PM me and I'll give you the info.
Trouble sleeping tonight too. I have the same thoughts as BITS. Haven't heard from difficult child in two days. I worry if he ok. Is he warm? Is he lonely? Is he Hungary? Is he getting the help he needs? Hope you are getting sleep tonight BITS. I will take this shift :)


Active Member
BITS and CA, hope that both of you are sleeping like babies right now to make up for those lost hours. I appreciated your support a day or so ago when difficult child was acting out yet again. I am so ready for her to get a job and move into an apartment. It is so unsettling to watch as she repeats some of her old patterns from the past. It is also an affirmation that unless I keep my boundaries and mentally detach from the situation, it will be "déjà vu all over again".

One thing that helps me when I wake up in the middle of the night is to come to this website and sometimes reread the good advice people have given me on my old posts! The wise words apply just as well the second, third, etc. time around.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
That happens to me too, BITS. This may help: Do some journaling about how you want this to look, about what changes you hope for from the choices you made when you decided you wanted things to be different, for your family. You decided to stand up to the status quo of a son who assaults his mother, of a grandfather who negates the seriousness of that pattern in the family, and of that same father believing his only value is the money he uses to dominate his family.

It was for this dream of change that you stood up, BITS.

And it is worth it. Even if you never see those dreams come to fruition BITS, you took the courage to stand up, to declare to, and for, your family that there was a better way to be a family; that there was a better way to love.

You know your son is physically safe. Yes, he is living in the scorpion's den...but maybe BITS, that is the only way he could learn why the old family patterns were wrong, were harmful.

Family is meant to strengthen us. If something else is happening instead and we can see it, we really do need to stand up, to say what we see. Really? We are standing for all the future generations of our families. The fight is worth it, BITS.

I think the scariest times for me were the middle of the night worries when I couldn't find a place to stand. I too found myself circling and circling the worst of it. I read somewhere that our egos do this to us on purpose, to get our attention.

Change the story, BITS.

You did not stand up as you have ~ to your son, to your own father, a huge influence in your life ~ so you could back down now because everything did not fall into place as easily as baking a cake.

You are strong enough to stay the course, BITS. You did not create a drama because you had nothing better to do. You called this battle on your terms and your motives were pure and right.

You may not see your family dynamic changed all at once, BITS. I am not seeing that in my family of origin, either. But I know why I did what I chose, with both eyes open, to do.

If nothing else, you and I have changed the currents and maybe even the course of the river of our family history, BITS.

Determine that you will remember a few key phrases from your journaling when you awaken in the night. Be determined to repeat those phrases and remember that you knew this wasn't going to be easy or pleasant when you began it, and that you know the value in it.

Your cause is just.

Complete the episode with the Serenity Prayer. Repeat it (as was told to me) until it works. Repeat it with sadness, pain, determination ~ you will find a myriad of emotions surfacing as you repeat that prayer, again and again.

It isn't easy to confront family patterns, BITS. But it isn't easy to just keep accepting them, hoping things will get better if we are kind enough, if we are generous and pleasant. In my family? That translates as "easy mark."



WalMart sells an over the counter, herbal medication called Calms Forte. It runs about $5 a bottle. It is non-addictive. I still don't take it unless I can't manage that circling, worried stress, that kind that builds up and up in the night until you can't stand it.

Nyquil makes something just for sleep, too.

I try to be hyper-aware of the potential for addiction.

Menopause began, for me, with disrupted sleep patterns. I just wasn't sleeping well. Then, I just wasn't sleeping. This began in my thirties. I am 62, now. It still happens. It is still cyclic. You may need to address the sleep issue on the physical level. I developed anxiety, word searching, heart pounding, night sweats ~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), it was awful. My point is that this may be a piece of the puzzle for you too, BITS.

Of all the physical things I tried (and I did not do estrogen) B vitamins helped me the most, during this time.

I am glad you posted about this, BITS. So many of us go through that middle of the night hellishness alone. Your post will help so many, BITS.

Will you post on how you dealt with it, what worked, what didn't?

This thought comforts me, too. difficult child daughter shared this with me, actually. Three o'clock in the morning is when, all over the world...women seem to wake up. I began checking the time. Sure enough. Three a.m.

So now, even when I cannot sleep, even if it isn't 3 a.m. yet...I think about, wonder about, all the mothers, all around the world, who may be up right at that moment, just like me.

It comforts me, to think of all of us, awake and watching the stars.



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Hello everyone...I just love hearing from you guys...I've been really busy at work and having to work at nights too but no, sleep isn't any better...I seem to be strong enough to handle alot of stress in either my job or at home but not both!...;-)...I haven't heard from difficult child in 2 weeks...he's not responding to my texts at all and I've let him be for now so that while he's in his classes, he can't blame me for his ultimate bad grades (like he has for that last 3 years) husband's birthday was on Monday and difficult child did text him 'happy birthday' at least but that was it...

you won't believe what thought my family of origin was awful so far? well, they sent husband a birthday card! every birthday, they always send a card that has $100 in husband and I had an argument over what to do with it...I know that it was a manipulation by them to try and divide me and husband...they want to show that I'm the crazy one so they sent that to him in hopes he'd accept it, take the money, and then they could believe that he was on their 'side'....that I was the problem-- which has been their belief all along...they've tried to divide us all along and this was yet another way...husband didn't see it but it was obvious to me...I grew up with these people and their cruel manipulations...they've always made me feel like I'm worthless and no man could love me without some reason-- my husband is only with me, they have said, because I make more money than he does...even though we've been married 17 years now and clearly love each took a lot of therapy to see that pattern but it's clearly there...why else would they send a card like that to him when the last thing they said to him was how much he'd screwed up difficult child, husband is a 'hot head', he shouldn't have 'let me' call 911, and so on...we ended up not opening it and putting 'return to sender' on it...they should have gotten it back yesterday so maybe it'll be awhile before we hear from them again! It's hard to even write about this because it's such clear evidence of how crazy my family is and makes me question myself over and over again...

Sleeping hasn't improved and I've been waking up with my heart racing which has happened in the past when I was stressed (last time was when difficult child was first getting violent and scary in 10th grade)...I decided to go in to see my doctor tomorrow and talk to her about all my physical symptoms...she tends to think of natural remedies so I'm sure she'll have good suggestions...I have diabetes and started to worry about the impact on my long-term health with all this unceasing drama...I've been trying melatonin and tylenol pm which get me to sleep but then I wake up and can't go back (and yes, 3am seems to be a regular time!)...going to go to bed early tonight (now) but wanted to touch base with you all...thanks for tolerating all this yucky dysfunction that I've been trying to wade through...


Well-Known Member
Awwww BITS, i am sorry to hear about your lack of sleep. Valerian has helped me a lot, but it took a couple weeks to "kick in". I have a huge advantage, being retired. husband and i almost always wake up between 3-5AM, but we do get back to sleep and there is no alarm.

Never thought I'd try Sominex(!) but i have on nights when i MUST sleep. Have used it four times and every time, have gotten a decent night's sleep--enough to power through the next day.

So happy you returned the bd card, that may have had $100 enclosed. That speaks (loudspeaker!!) to your parents. Good going!


Well-Known Member
BITS.... thinking of you. Great questions....

In no particular order..... the best resource for me has been a alanon group for parents. It was a huge help for me to meet other parents who have been through this and are going through this and surviviing. It helped me a lot to get to the place where I am not going to let difficult child ruin my life, not matter what happens. A good therapist has been a great help also.

As far as my relationship with husband.... the feeling that we are in this together and then continuing to take time to do things together and to spend time together.

I am not a hugely spiritual person.... we do go to a UU church which I really like and that has been a supporitve community and when things have been really bad for some reason that is where I go and fall apart during the service and that has been ok.

As far as sleepingi at night. That is hard when things are bad... the worst for me was when my son was homeless in the middle of winter across the country and the only way I knew he was alive was to check phone records.... got tough when he lost his phone! The only thing that got me through sometimes at night was to just repeat the serenity prayer over and over. Realizing I need to accept the things I cannot change was helpful to me.... I think what keeps me awake usually is trying to figure out how to fix things.... and accepting that I could not was helpful.

The other thing I have had to do is to just STOP when my thoughts go to the woulda shoulda couldas..... literally when I start to go there which always gets me depressed and upset is to tell myself to stop and think of something else. With practice I am getting better at that.


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one day at a time
BITS, wouldn't you hate to be the kind of person who sat around and thought of mean things to do? Wow. I can't believe they sent that card to husband. And I am so proud of you for just returning the card and saying nothing. Silence speaks volumes. You're not going to play their games.

It makes me think of other "old" (I may be in that category, lol) people who I see around, several who live in my neighborhood, who just live to be unpleasant, it seems. I have one old gentleman (I say that kindly) down the street who walks two Corgis every day. When I drive by, he stops and stares. He never waves, no matter how many times I wave. I finally stopped waving.

Another old man (and his wife) we call the Pool Nazis. They used to take care of (for pay) our neighborhood swimming pool. They did a great job on the pool, I must say, but somehow it became THEIR pool. They would preach around to everybody about what to do and what not to do. If they "caught" you doing something they didn't like, they reported you to the neighborhood association. One time they said we must stop every person we see on our walking trail and ask them if they live in this neighborhood if we don't know them because the trail is only for residents.

And there are others. Some of my good friends and I have been telling each other that we are NOT going to be mean old people. If we start to go down that road, we are going to kick each other's behinds.

BITS, I know your dad is way beyond just Mean Old People, but I think one thing I have learned is this: Whatever we are today, we will be only more so as we age.

Let that be a lesson to us! (smile). Let's be kinder, gentler, more forgiving.

I think they really just have too much time on their hands, and that is the core problem. Anyway, I digress from your post.

You have done such a courageous thing---to separate from a person(s) who are toxic. There are toxic people in our lives, and I don't know about you, but I tried myself silly trying to make it work with them. Finally, I wised up, and realized it was not to be.

Wishing you peace and joy and blessings on this Friday BITS. I'm so glad you are on this forum.


Active Member
I got another letter from my father today!!!....I thought about starting a new thread since it's a letter I've received since telling him to STOP contacting me, giving him documentation of how what he is doing and saying is domestic violence...another one! Based on how it was addressed, it too was nasty but I put it back in the mailbox with 'return to sender' again...I also emailed my difficult child who hasn't replied to texts in 2 weeks and told him about it. I 'warned' him about it on 2/28, when I sent my father the first returned letter and don't know that he knew his Papa was doing that. but in my email i told him today to ask them to stop, to intervene, because I just can't take it anymore- that what I'm paying for or not for him is between me and him (that's what my father was harping about- that I'm not supporting my own son!)...if difficult child wants to reach me, he knows where to find me, I would welcome having a relationship with him but as long as he's not communicating with me, I'm leaving him alone...he's a grown man and needs to make decisions for himself of what's important to him in life...I just am stunned they sent another letter...husband wasn't though...he said they got the returned birthday card on Wednesday, he sat down and wrote this latest letter and mailed it the next day...amazing...they just have nothing to do other than trash me and I'm not strong enough to keep this up...

good luck sleeping tonight!....ugh!