Slowly Breaking Me Down

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Ca Mom Losing Hope, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. I am not even sure where to start with this update. The last 4 – 6 weeks has been very tough. My difficult child has been breaking me down little by little.

    Just to recap, my difficult child is going to be 22 years old in June and has been giving me troubles with violence, drugs, and indifference to any situation or another’s feelings since he was 13 years old. He has lived with my mother, sister, his father, his father’s parents and myself over the years but each time he is kicked out due to his attitude of not wanting to make any effort, cussing everyone out, lots of violence with breaking things and at times, threatening with knives. He got involved with gangs in his later teen years and was their “enforcer” when people didn’t pay up. I thought this was the worst moments of my life until the recent few months. His last chance was given to him last year when his brother said he could move in with him in Indiana since he had nowhere to go and had shown up on my doorstep asking to crash. His brother “saved” me as I was so distraught over the thought of him living in my home again and abusing me mentally, with the possibility of physically. I must admit this is probably my worst fear. He is a big boy and can be very sweet at times, but when he is mad he gets this wild look in his eyes and nothing anyone says or does will help him stay calm.

    After about 6 months of living with his brother, he had burned that bridge too. He punched his brother in face multiple times when he was sleeping, broke down his bedroom door. They got through this, as brother I guess can, but his brother says he was in fear of his life from that moment on and living on eggshells. My difficult child would walk around with a knife and would punch walls when he was mad, in between the other moments where he would be happy go lucky. I was only told this later, not while it was going on. He is likely Bi-Polar, but has never been diagnosed. As you can probably guess, his brother called me scared for his life, ready to live on the streets as he couldn’t live with his brother any longer. My older difficult child and my husband (not his dad) worked out a very strict agreement for him to come back to California and live in our home. This has worked out well. He has a job, doing all the work we need him to around the house and is going to school. No problems with this arrangement. As soon as my difficult child realized that his brother was in California, he lost it. Has been harassing me since to let him come home. There is no way I can let this happen. I know that I don’t want to feel the way he makes me feel and I know I would be scared. The last time he lived with me, every time my husband would leave, he would lay into me with whatever had him angry at the moment. My husband became scared to even leave me alone.

    My previous updates were that he was threatening suicide and had even attempted it a couple of times. The actual attempts have stopped but the talking about wanting to die has not. He constantly texts me that he needs my help and the only way that I can help him is to let him come live with me. When I tell him this is not possible and will not happen he just goes back to talking about killing himself. I have given him names of physiatrists that he can walk to (he has no vehicle as he sold the one he drove to Indiana to buy an xbox and tv). He refuses to go to any physiatrist, but says if I let him come home he would go to one since I would be able to drive him, I would not. Last week I got a bit of hope when he text me about a job interview he had, but of course needed thread for a button he needed to sew on and deodorant as I had forgot to send it in the last care package I sent, so I sent him $10. The day before the interview, he started texting me that I didn’t love him and to tell him that I was done with him. He said he was not going to the interview without the “truth”. I tried to give him some positive advice but then it just escalated. Mind you this was at 1am my time which was 4am his time on the day of the interview. My husband and I were in Hawaii on a much needed vacation and I really didn’t want to ruin it with this same issue that consumes our lives so much. I am sure you could guess, when I asked how the interview went he tells me he didn’t go. I asked him why he didn’t go he said “I’m a bipolar person with depersonalization disorder. What did you think was going to happen, did you think they were going to make me manager or something” I was so mad, disappointed, depressed and frustrated. It was our last day in Hawaii so I ignored it as best as I could. I told him he needed help and that nobody could help him but himself. He says no I could help him but I refuse to, referring to letting him live with me.

    Since this time I have been pushing professional help, and he says no. He is going to lose his house that I pay for in August and my husband is expecting the money we pay out to go away or at least be reduced significantly. He has to do something or he will be homeless and I will hurt even more. He lives now day to day doing nothing. He has nothing and refuses to change his situation.

    My guilt comes with thoughts that maybe he can’t help himself. He is my child and I should help him, right? What if he is right and he can’t do it? Anything? I have so much trouble with this since my life has been tough too but I fought and never gave up, put myself through school, worked my way through low level jobs to a very secure mid-level job in IT that provides a good living.

    I am being tortured with these communications. When they escalate I do ignore them and not engage but the desire to help him is always there and when the first reasonable communication comes through I start talking to him again. My husband says he has figured out how to talk to me just under the line so that I don’t cut off communications but that he can still make me feel guilty. I want this all to go away. I want to be allowed to live my life and enjoy my family and friends. I don’t feel like I can help him as he doesn’t want the help I give in the way of advice and direction. He just wants money and / or to live with me. His last communication still hit the guilt button with me. I woke up this morning to this:

    I will not live without help

    Family Help

    I’m sure you already shut off my phone but I had to say this (referring to me blocking his number)

    I responded back with my new standard response telling him to call the psychiatrist to get help with his depression with the number of the closest male psychiatrist that takes his insurance.

    This is constant, these types of texts. It is a slow water board like torture. I don’t know how to deal with this any longer. I am so worried about August when my husband is expecting us to stop paying the rent, utilities etc. as the lease is up. I have racked my brain with options.

    One other twist that isn’t helping my worry is my husbands and my desire to have a child together. We have talked to all the right people and done the tests for a later in life baby but this stress I think is too much for a pregnant woman to go through. I worry that I will have another difficult child but he tells me that it wouldn’t happen because he will always be there and that he isn’t my ex.

    Ok I rambled again. I read your posts daily and even more so when things get bad. I hear that many of you are going through similar situations or have previously. Thank you Cedar for encouraging me to post as my husband has been telling me the same. I wish that things could be so much different.
  2. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member


    You are the only one who could let this happen. Resolve now, CaMom, that it will not happen.

    That is resolution #1: Moving home is not an option.

    If you keep it very simple, he cannot twist you with arguments or threaten you with suicide.

    This is a blatant manipulation.

    If the only way you can help your son is to let him move home then you cannot help your son.

    "Moving home is not an option."

    Detachment, which is a learned skillset, will be helpful to you I think, CaMom. Working with it, coming to understand what that term "detachment" means has changed my life. I am posting that now so you will know there is a way out. There IS a way to parent a difficult / troubled / mentally ill child. We need time to learn and absorb these new concepts. It will not happen for you overnight, but if you keep posting and as you read our stories and note the similarities, you will find yourself adopting these changed viewpoints in a natural, non-threatening way. As you read with us, you will hear the same threats, see same demands, read about the same kinds of acting out behaviors from our troubled adult kids, however they were raised and especially during the holidays or while we are on vacation. For now, it is enough for you to know that we are here, and that there are changes you can make which will change the dynamic of your relationship with this hurting and confused child.

    Resolution #2: I love my son.

    Your son is too confused, too locked into guilt and manipulation, to know what love is, CaMom. But you do. You are his mother. You have tried everything you know and it hasn't worked; nothing you did, nothing you have tried, has helped this child become the man you raised him to be. It is time to try something different. The first step? Know that you love your son. Reclaim that territory of the heart from this troubled, angry young man. He has no right to define the nature of your love for him.

    He is only 22.

    He has never been pregnant, given birth, or raised a child.

    He has no clue.

    He is using something sacred (the way a mother loves) to torture and manipulate. Only you can stop this behavior. It will stop when it no longer works.

    You are in control of that, CaMom.

    Yep. That's how they do. He was jerking your attention back to him. He did this on purpose and with malice aforethought. It happens to all of us, all the time.

    Again, are actually in control of this, too. What did he expect you to do from Hawaii? His intention in calling as, when, and how he did was to scare you, to horrify you...and to ruin your trip with your husband.

    Again, this young male has muddied something sacred; has trampled all over the sacred, fiery magic at the heart of every marriage.

    Resolution #3

    I love my son. I do not need to prove something sacred through profaning my other relationships, or my relationship to myself.

    Then, your son will need to approach the creation of his life with those challenges in mind. He is fortunate to know. Many who suffer in this way suffer meaninglessly, endlessly questioning why they are different.

    You cannot change this for your son.

    Midwest Mom will be posting to you soon, I am sure. She will have much information for you, CaMom.

    Help, as they on the way!


    Manipulation, again. It is okay for him to manipulate if he chooses to? It is even more important though CaMom, that you recognize the manipulation for what it is. What we want to teach our children is to communicate with us honestly. Excusing them is not helping them. That is what I realized one time when MWM had posted about abusive adult children. That post bothered and bothered me. I kept going back, kept reading it. What it turned out to be is that MY son was abusing ME.

    The sad, sad thing about learning that, for me, was that I had lost such respect for my son that I never even heard it. Somewhere along the line, I stopped expecting my son to behave with dignity or honesty or compassion or even intelligence. I excused him right into someone he never was, and that became who he was. Once I could see it clearly, once I could acknowledge my part in creating the unthinking monster I had allowed my son to become, I confronted him with what he had said.

    I have not heard from him since.

    I would rather never hear my son's voice again than to pretend that who he is is all he is capable of becoming.

    I am his mother. If I do not believe he is better than this...who will?

    My daughter spent the winter months homeless in northern Minnesota. Tiny little blue-eyed blond addict/alcoholic. She survived. If your son chooses homelessness, he will survive, too.

    For your sake CaMom, you could call Social Services in his area. Learn what programs are available for him. Take phone numbers. Give your son this information when he begins to manipulate.

    This is for you, CaMom. We parents have to be able to look at ourselves in the mirror. It's a balancing act. We are not (no one could be) prepared to parent in the way difficult child kids need to be parented. It seems too heartless. But I think that, unless we help them to grow, our children will learn shifty, sneaky ways of getting the things they want. It seems to me that we need to stop making that seem okay. Your son needs to take a man's responsibility for himself CaMom, or he will never become a man.

    Recovering Enabler pointed out to me one time after my daughter had been beaten that my own child was using my reaction to her having been beat to torture me. And...she was right, CaMom.

    My own daughter did that to me.

    I don't know why.

    Recovering calls that feeling of spacey, disconnected unbalance the FOG. If you can recognize and name that feeling when you are in it, you can tell yourself you will make it through it. You will have a way to orient yourself.

    And you will survive.

    For me, for so many of us here, gets to be about surviving.

    I'm so sorry this is happening, to you, and to your son.

    Actually, I like that. What we are going to aim for next is a higher standard for "reasonable."


    August is many weeks away, CaMom. By that time, you will be well versed in how to walk through this with your sense of self intact. For now, it would be best for you to look at July as the last month you will pay your son's rent. Write it down, say it out loud, TELL YOUR difficult child. Just say it. If you can't come up with just how to do that?

    We will help you.

    Post about what you need to, CaMom. There was a time everyone here walked me through possible phone conversations with my son. I needed them to do that for me Ca, and they did.

    We will help you the same way.

    Then we have to make that happen, Ca. For whatever reason, our difficult child kids are not strong enough to help themselves grow up. Unless they do grow up and become responsible curators of their own lives, their lives will be pale, cheap imitations of what they might have been.

    We have to try, CaMom.

  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    How hard he tried to "do this?" Any effort on his part? What is he doing to help himself right now? Is he dumping his shoddy friends? Anyone can do that. Is he trying to find psychiatric help or rehab? All it takes are phone calls. There is free help. How are those NA meetings coming? How respectful has he been to his family and friends who try to help him? Doesn't take any effort at all to be nice and respectful. Is he abstaining from drugs?

    The fact is, he doesn't want to try. He just wants the perks you will give him if you feel sorry for him.

    Now what are YOU doing for YOURSELF? Not allowing your family to discuss him or his FB posts? Why did you let him ruin your Hawiian trip. Personally, I would not have read his texts while on vacation.

    Hugs. I know it's hard.
  4. Thank you both Cedar & MWM for so much truth. I read your responses at my desk at work but couldn’t get through the whole thing all at once as the words you say are hard to read, and bring up so many emotions. I did finally get through the response while taking a break.
    I agree, Moving Home is Not an Option and I am surprised how strong I have gotten on this point over the last few weeks. I do still have moments when I think maybe it could work but I do know better and those thoughts are quick to be resolved within myself. And if that doesn’t work, I mention it to my husband or my other son and they both rationalize it out with me. I just need to stay strong on this point. I do often wonder what I would do if he showed up on the doorstep.

    I do love my son, more than he will ever know. I have tried everything in my power, even to my own detriment and I am no longer willing or able to do any more. You use the word manipulation, of which has been coming up more and more in my conversations and thoughts and research. Yes, he is using my love as a tool for his manipulation and guilt tactics. I am not sure he knows this is what he is doing but that is probably just my denial. He is a smart kid and I sometimes think he is just calling me a sucker every time I give in. He is using something Sacred by manipulating my love, and I never imagined that my own son would end up this way. In reality, I don’t think he even cares any longer, he is just using me until I stop letting him

    I did not raise him this way, but there was always something a little off about him from puberty onward. He was my sweet kind boy before that, he still can be sometimes. I feel for him sometimes when I think of this as I do think he needs help, but I have guided him to help, gave him the phone number to call, provided the insurance to get him help, and he will not take it. He refuses to do anything. When we were in Hawaii we went horseback riding through the hills of Kauai. It was so beautiful and relaxing. Toward the end of our ride we came up to a water bucket for the horses and a few went up at a time so they didn’t get scared. When it came time for my husband and I to go to the bucket, mine drank but he kept trying to get his to go to the bucket but the horse wouldn’t go. The guide laughs and says, you can lead a horse to water… I thought of my difficult child.

    I think my favorite thing you said was that I may have to have a higher standard for reasonable. That is the truth. Ever since he started the suicide threats, I have been afraid to completely cut him off or block his number. My husband, who used to help him a lot with advice and guidance, refuses to unblock his number. difficult child blew up his phone, which is also his work cell, one evening while he was working on a technical production issue, and that was it. He tried to reason with him but difficult child of course didn’t see that he had done anything wrong. Despite the cussing and irrational texts, and calling at 1 and 3 am in the morning. difficult child takes no responsibility for anything. So my compromise is that when he starts to pick an argument, I ignore it and don’t respond. But of course I still read them, and it rips me up inside.

    I love to hear your examples of how the others have helped you. I am sorry to hear your son doesn’t talk to you any longer, but to tell you the truth, some days I wish for that. I may get my wish when I take your advice. July is the last rent we are paying. I have already said this but it doesn’t seem to faze him. How do I say it so that it hits home. I think he doesn’t believe me. I do need help with the words to say when he is manipulating me. As I was writing this he texted me:

    “I’m Almost out of food stamps

    I probably have 5 days left

    So I need a week of food

    But you don’t care

    It never stops little bits of jabs here and there all day long.

    MWM I read so many of your posts on this board and recently realized you are sharing your wisdom on the other forums as well. You are right, he has done NOTHING. And has no intention of doing anything. He does just want the perks. I know I need to do more for myself. How do I justify in my head my son being in another state with no job, no money, no education, and no transportation and not helping? How do I tell him this is what is going to happen so he believes it and does something? How do I tell myself that this is going to happen and not fall apart?

    CA Mom
  5. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    CA, you are strong on this because some important part of you is ready to be strong. I see this over and over on the board, and I've been there myself. Something happens, big or small, or maybe it is just an accumulation of things, and we start to see differently. As Cedar sometimes says, once we have seen we can't unsee. I think you are ready to make some changes, and we are here to help you.

    Dear difficult child,
    that must make you a bit anxious. You are a smart guy, though, I know you will figure something out.

    there have been times when everyone here walked me through my own thoughts, my broken heart, my exhaustion, my fear, and for weeks and weeks and weeks my anger. Keep posting...every day if you can, it is amazingly helpful to have the group reflect with you.



  6. Thank you Echo. Such simple words and prefect. Why can't I think of responses like that? I will be using that word for word.

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  7. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Ca Mom,

    I am reading along, feeling your pain and uncertainty. Do keep posting; it helps tremendously.

    You will get stronger, realizing you cannot fix things for ANYbody, including a child you birthed and nurtured and loved more than life itself.

    My 33 yo son certainly piled on the guilt, much of it ridiculous. Fifteen years he has done what your son is doing. After all efforts by husband and me, guess what. He is not one bit IS up to him.

    Hugs! Please stay close. A month from now, you will not believe your increased strength, knowledge, and resolve.
  8. That is my biggest fear SS. That it will go on and on for years or decades. But I can't fix it, Lord knows I have tried. And it might continue to go on, and I can't control that either. So I must learn to respond and cope with it appropriately without letting it impact my life so much. I love life, and all it has to give. Before I found this forum, I was sinking into a black hole of losing all hope in anything and everything Finding people that relate was a gift I will repay to others struggling when I myself am stronger.

    CA Mom

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  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    CA Mom, as I tell everyone "Actions speak louder than words."

    You don't have to tell him anything. Just don't do what you used to do. Show him you have set boundaries.

    You will not fall apart because you have us and we are on call 24/7 plus you are strong. We all are. We have been through this for years and years and we did not crack. And you won't either.

    To help yourself get through this, I would not engage difficult child unless he truly calls you just to ask how you are. If you feel it is going in the direction of a two year old, such as, "If you loved me, you'd give me food" pretend the doorbell rang and you have to go.

    Your son can eat. There are plenty of places for meals for the homeless, which he has chosen to be. The fact is, you aren't that hungry when you are using certain drugs so you don't eat anyway. He doesn't want you to buy him food. He wants you to send him money so he can likely buy drugs.

    I used to be really naive and when I'd see a beggar or somebody with a homeless sign I'd stuff $10 in their bucket. This was when I was in my early 20's and worked in Chicago. As time went on, I started working at a homeless shelter and heard the residents laugh about how they panhandled money and how much they got. Thereafter, I learned my lesson and if I feel inclined to help somebody on the street I offer to buy them a sandwich, but no money.

    I had an experience not too long ago with some guy holding up a homeless sign. I gave him an old blanket in from my car because it was old but clean and the weather was chilly. He was underwhelmed. Later, I heard he parks all over town until he is chased away and is not homeless.

    Will I ever learn? Oh, well. At least it's not money
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    CA Mom, this stuff hurts us. Our kids are usually master manipulators who know every guilt button to push. You're in good company here, we've all been in your shoes. And you know what? A lot of us aren't anymore, so you too can move out of this nasty space you're in with your son.

    I'm sorry CAMom, I know how much this hurts. It is heartbreaking and as Cedar has often said, it is a devastation unlike any other.

    I think you already read the article on detachment at the bottom of my post here. If not, it's a good article.

    You may get some needed support from NAMI, which is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They can be accessed online and have chapters everywhere. They have wonderful courses for parents and resources for you and for your difficult child if he would choose to take them. But you can. And, really, the key to you getting your life back on a healthy track is this......YOU change. He will or he won't but you can't wait around for him to get it, for him to take medication or see his psychiatrist or to actually grow up.

    First of all, you will need as much support as you can get. If you aren't in therapy, it is usually a good idea to get in to it because this is hard work for us parents. Find a parent group or go to Families anonymous or some kind of regular, consistent support.

    If your son threatens suicide, call the police in the area in which he resides. Tell him every single time he makes that threat, you will call the police.

    It sounds as if August is going to be his cut off from the milk train and in my opinion, this is what needs to happen. He cannot come home and he will need to begin forming his own life at some point. If it were me I would tell him that come August, whatever funding he presently has, will be coming to an end and he will need to come up with his own options. That gives him a little over 3 months, a lot longer then some landlords give you when they evict you. And you have 3 months to begin the process of detachment which sounds as if you are quite ready to embark upon.

    A grown adult male who has mental issues but will not seek help is not the responsibility of the parents to care for him. He is aware enough to manipulate you and not show up for a job interview but instead rattle on about his insufficiencies thereby giving you ample reason to feel bad, ruin your vacation and get money from you too. Quite the con.

    Our kids are smart. But we allow them to continue to manipulate us long after we realize how wrong it is because we're now in so deep we don't know how to get out. Most of us do that because we simply don't know what else to do. But there are options. Many here on the PE side have made similar choices and come out the other side.

    You have to set boundaries around this behavior. You can start by not responding to all of his texts. Wait. When you do respond, respond by saying what ECHO said, "you're smart, you'll figure it out." Begin to move back a little at a time, as it feels comfortable to you. You have to retrain your son to go out in the world on his own volition and man up. He's been trained to call you when he needs anything, or bully his brother, or use violence, or whatever works. This is a recipe for disaster. When you begin the process of letting him make his own choices and care for himself, he will up the ante considerably. It will get worse before it gets better. He will do whatever he thinks it will take to get you to do for him what he can certainly do for himself.

    If you continue to coddle him, he will quickly turn into a 30 year old man who depends on his mother, then a 40 and 50 year old man. And you will be a 70 year old mother taking care of a middle aged difficult child. Not a pretty thought. There are boys younger then he is fighting in a foreign country, scared out of their minds, but defending our rights as a nation..........think about that next time he calls and says he doesn't have enough food stamps. Cedar put up a picture of a soldier by the phone so she could be reminded of that fact when her difficult child son called with his manipulations.

    If your son is truly bi-polar then he will need medication and therapy. Is he on disability? Does he have health insurance of his own? If he does, then he can find housing through social services where he lives.

    If not, he has options.


    There have been many kids and adults here on this site who have been homeless and some are right now living on the streets. My own brother is schizophrenic and lived on the streets of L.A. for many years. My daughter was homeless for awhile and lived in her car. Our kids are resourceful and find ways to land on their feet. If they don't like being homeless, then they will find a way to not be homeless. It is his life.........he makes the choices. Not you.

    It will be hardest on you, the mother. That's why you need support. This is not easy on us, it goes against everything we believe is real and right. Just remember, whatever you settle for is what you will be living with.

    Begin the process of learning about detachment and get some support to help you to continue. We're all here if you need us, we've all been in your shoes. Hang in there CA Mom, this is hard stuff. Keep posting, it helps.
  11. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    We have been right where you are, Ca. It is a hard place to be. I wish this had never happened to you, or to any of us. But it did happen. We will share with your our stories, their outcomes, the ways we learned to be stronger. There is no magic solution. I believe it is mandatory for us to remember that it is the situation that is bad. Not us, not our troubled kids. There is no villain, here. We do the best we know. Whatever we do, there seems to be no magic fix. We are in an impossibly difficult place in our lives. We do the best we know. When we know better, then we can do better. (That is Maya Angelou.)

    Hold strong, CaMom. We do know what this is like. We know the worry, the sick feeling that overrides every good thing. It seems imperative to fight for ourselves and our children. We are prepared to do that. Nothing seems to help them, and we become more and more desperate. There are no guidelines. Just as you posted, nothing, nothing we do seems to help our kids.

    They do the strangest things.

    I learned, here on the site, to tell my son that he was raised better than to do what he was doing. That was a true thing. It will be a beginning strength for you to remember that true thing. Part of the devastation of having a child who is going the wrong way is that we feel we should have seen it coming, should have been able to save them...but it just keeps getting worse.

    I am so sorry this is happening to you, and to that child you love, that child you would do whatever it takes to save.

    Read our stories, CaMom. Post as you feel the need. There is not a parent here who will judge you. We have been where you are, tonight.

    It's a lonely place to be.

    Someone posted the following prayer, the Serenity Prayer, to me, when I was going through the worst of it with my son. She told me to read it until I got it. It helped me, CaMom. I know you have read it a thousand times? But it will help you.

    Read it until you get it, until you feel it begin to work.

    Especially when I would be jerked awake by a nightmare, it helped me to recite it, there in the dark, when I was alone with the horror of it. Here it is. Know that we get it, CaMom. There is not one thing easy or good or rewarding in all this. Someone you love, someone for whom you feel responsible, is self destructing.

    It's a desperate, lonely place to be.

    But you are here now, with us. You aren't alone with it, anymore. There is an amazing amount of comfort and strength in this site, CaMom.

    God, grant me the Serenity to accept what I cannot change
    the Courage to change what I can
    and the Wisdom to know the difference.

    As for how to tell your son what he needs to hear? Keep it as simple as you can. Tell him what you need to tell him, from the heart. If you post to us what you think you want to say, we will give you our input. You may need to write it down and keep it near the phone. I had to do that. I never could think straight, when my child was in pain....

    This helped me.

    There are soldiers fighting, right now, in faraway lands. They are not crying to mommy about where they are or how they don't have food stamps. They are 19, maybe 20. Another mom here posted to me once, about that. I realized she was right. I cut out a picture of soldiers that I found in the newspaper. I taped it to the wall near the phone.

    That helped me to visualize my own son as the adult he was.

    That gave me just enough strength to talk to my son differently.

    That small difference was a beginning.

  12. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Oh, this is key. Time. You have time. You can ignore the texts for a few minutes or forever. You can respond to any question or statement with: "I'm sorry that happened to you, honey." or "Let me get back to you, difficult child." or "Wow! What are you going to do?"

    Silence will allow your child to come up with a solution. If he doesn't, continue making the same kinds of "Everything is going to be just fine." statements.


    Recovering made an excellent point. The kids will up the ante. If we are prepared, even if our preparation is something we've written down ahead of time, we will have changed the dynamic.

  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    There is an excellent book called "Boundaries" by Cloud and Townsend (anyone..correct me if I have the wrong authors please). In the book, it explains how crazy dysfunctional people behave toward us when we set boundaries. It is classic. It is excellent. Although it is based on Christianity, you certainly do not need to be a Christian to benefit from it's wisdom. I am sort of a hodgepodge of beliefs and I thought it was one of the best self-help books I have ever read. It explains about upping the ante.

    Beware of the suicide threat. I will repeat what I have said many times and this does not mean it will never happen. I have been here about twenty years and not one difficult child I can remember ever truly succeeded in committing suicide. MOST of the time, it is used for maximum manipulation...they know we won't ignore that kind of a threat.

    Yet, I have had to learn to accept that, as scary as it is, we can not stop ANYONE who really wants to commit suicide. It is always there on the table and is often on the minds of people who never talk about it at all. If our difficult children, like mine does, threaten suicide, we hang up and call 911. And pray (if we are inclined to do so). Beyond that, we can not stop this ultimate horror. People commit suicide all the time and most of the time, at least in my life experiences, nobody knew the person was planning it. Realistically, would they tell us if they were serious? I don't know. I take threats seriously by calling 911. I can do nothing else and I am not going to throw away all the progress I have made that has been good for me, the others in my family, and my dear friends who I think of as family because of 36's hundredth threat to kill himself. It is usually a bluff to make us feel bad.

    36 has confided in me that a few times he used the suicide card to get his father, my ex, to give him a lot of money and it worked. He was laughing about it. Talk about that ole soap opera "As the Stomach Turns..."

    Made me ashamed that my boy, who was raised to care about others, could laugh about being manipulative and terrifying his father. Ugh.
  14. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    CA Mom, I just read the whole thread again. What wisdom there is here. A suggestion: go through the thread and take down the short statements of HOW to do this. You already know WHAT to do. There is a gap between WHAT and HOW, and these tools everybody is listing can help bridge that gap. Sometimes we are just so crazed with fear and grief from all of the relentless, never ending chaos and craziness and the fact that NOTHING we have tried to do has done one single thing to change the situation. That's because WE have been doing the work.

    One time somebody told me this: When you're more upset than he is about the situation, that is a signal to you that things are backward and out of order.

    Now, I see it as right when I can set a boundary with him and he's still raging and pulling out all of the stops and I am simply silent or reading from my script.

    CA, our stories are very similar. My almost 25-year-old son has been "doing this" for years---the last nearly five years the worst. Drugs, arrests, jail, homeless, suicide threats (one time he actually superficially cut his wrists), police, stealing. He cannot come to my house or his dad's house anymore except for a couple of hours at a time at my house upon invitation. This last time I let him take a shower here and I gave him a sandwich. One time.

    I have gotten here inch by inch and through spending lots of time and hard work on MYSELF. Not him. Me. Once I started turning my focus to me, things started to change. It has been hard, and still is hard, many times, but there are more good days than bad days for me right now. He is now back in jail---I think for the 9th time in three years. He may go to prison this time.

    The sooner we can stop, the better off we are. And maybe, we are creating a space for them to take charge of their own lives. Maybe not. There is no guarantee. But there is a guarantee that as long as we are doing it for them, it will never happen.

    Great. That is huge. My difficult child son will never live here again. Will he ever even stay under this roof for one night? I don't know. Right now No. I would not be able to sleep with him here because in the state he is now, he would steal me blind at the very least. You can't lock up your whole house.

    Yes, we love them so very much. If there was something we could do, that would change the situation, we would do it in a New York Minute. Money, time, driving from here to eternity, whatever it took---we would do it. We love them that much.

    But there isn't anything, CA. There is no one thing or any set of things we can do to change what they decide to do. Only they can change themselves. This is a vital lesson for us to learn. Vital. And we have to keep relearning it because as much as we recover, and as much progress we make, our little busy minds will go to old habits: doing something in the face of unrelenting pain and misery and fear that we have for someone we love so very much who is self-destructing before our very eyes. We have to learn to do nothing. And boy, that is hard.

    Yep. Yes. That is my difficult child. He was sweet, kind and quiet---straight A's, funny, lots of friends, a good athlete, until the end of sixth grade. Seventh grade started the problems but they stayed at a dull roar throughout high school. He even played four years of high school soccer on a team with a very strict coach. I think somehow wanting to please that coach and play kept him between the lines, for the most part. He flunked out of college first semester---he was 19. That was the beginning of a decline that would gain steam from then on until his first arrest three years ago. I am sure there is so much I don't know. Just what I do know is more than plenty. It is a devastating story that today I can sum up like this: He has virtually nobody. He has virtually nothing. Before he got arrested again three weeks ago, he walked around town all day with a backpack, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at homeless shelters, talking about getting a job and getting a place to live. There were moments of supposed progress that I saw. And then that Wednesday, he got a job that morning---was so excited and texted me about it---and that night was arrested for shoplifting at Wal-mart. $94 some-odd of food, beer and an X-box controller. He may go to prison for that. I have accepted that, CA. Somehow I have.

    I so know this feeling. I am so very very tired of all of this. That is when we are ready for a change, CA. When we are completely sick and tired of our own children and their actions. How can we get to this point? We are vigilant loving people and mothers. But even we have a limit. We are human. We are usually the last man standing, but we are human. And we deserve more than this. That is where the transformation starts to take place: When we realize we are just as important as our precious adult sons and daughters are.

    You will do it by working on yourself, by using tools every single day that you learn about, by spending time on taking care of yourself. You will do it by reading this site. By going to support group meetings. By going to a therapist. By buying yourself a bunch of flowers at the grocery store, taking a bubble bath, taking a nap, taking a walk. In Al-Anon there is a saying: Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT)? If you are any of those, Halt, Stop and take care of that first. Take care of yourself first. If you don't, you are no good to yourself or anybody else. Back to this: You are as important as your precious son.

    Not our children. Not our parents. Not our friends. Not our spouse. Not any other person. We must learn (I must learn) to give other people the respect and dignity they deserve as adults to live their own lives, regardless of how that looks to me. Who do I think I am that I have the best idea about what other people should do? Taking care of myself and working on myself to be a better person is a full-time job, requiring my full focus and my full resources. I can't fix anything else for anybody else.

    Yes. I posted this week on another thread that I wish God would just tell me that this is always going to be this way with difficult child. Maybe then I could really accept it and deal with it and figure out how to have a relationship ---of some kind---with an active addict. Maybe I could. But God doesn't work that way. He is asking me to trust him, to let go. If I can learn to let go, the decades will come but I will be at peace, knowing joy and serenity and contentment, regardless.

    What a great statement. This is a huge thing to think about and I think something we all struggle with. What if? What if he just can't do the things he needs to do to live a decent life? He doesn't have the right number or right arrangement of brain cells. If that is the case, then aren't we responsible for stepping in ? Oh, the agony of these types of circular thoughts that will descend at the worst times and never stop---often in the middle of the night. RE is right. I have actually pulled my difficult child son out of bed---I mean literally---and pushed and pulled him to the car, driving him to an appointment with a psychiatrist, with other doctors, other professional therapists---desperate to find somebody, anybody, who can get through to him.

    It didn't work.

    If he did actually get in front of the professional, he sat there and said nothing. He hunched down in his chair and sat there and nothing was accomplished.

    Oh the desperation we have all felt. The crazy things we did and still do. That was a crazy thing I did---multiple times.

    I had to try everything, I guess, CA, before I would start to realize I had to stop the insanity. I am a very slow learner.

    You will start to feel better, CA, if you start collecting a set of tools and start using them daily. I guarantee that.

    You will not feel better if you keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I can also guarantee that.

    Please keep posting. Hugs and prayers and blessings and sunshine I wish for you today. I came to this forum in December 2013. I have grown tremendously using my tools---including this tool---since that time. I still have a long way to go, CA. But I am committed to keeping on. I hope you will be too.
  15. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    One more thing regarding suicide threats.

    In my state it is illegal to threaten suicide. I learned that and I have used it.

    The last time difficult child threatened suicide---about two months ago---I drove to where he was, I got out of my car, and I got in his face and I said this:

    Every time you threaten suicide, I will call the police. Every time.

    He knows I mean it because I have done it. Usually that stops the threats for months at a time.

    I don't believe (I could be wrong and that would be a horrible thing to be wrong about) he has any intention of committing suicide. But I will always take that threat seriously and thankfully, I can call the police, they will take him to the ER, then he will go to the state hospital for a week, get released, and usually the same things continue.

    I have discussed at length this threat with my ex-husband, difficult child's father. We both love him so much and would be devastated if he killed himself. We agreed we believe he loves himself way too much (in some ways) to ever do this.

    But we can't know and I never want to push him in a corner where he might be inclined to "show me".
  16. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    CAMom, just wanted you to know I am reading along and am very sorry you are in this place. I agree that your son will most likely escalate his manipulative behavior as August approaches. Stay strong. The limits you are setting are obviously quite reasonable; he is the one who is not being reasonable.

    My son used to make the same pity play to me when he wanted something. "You are my mother! How can you do this to me?!" And it worked really well for a long time. Now I am more inclined to look at the track record and think, "Hey! Wait a minute! Are you kidding?! How can YOU do this to ME?!?"

    On the suicide threats, I agree with the others on how to handle them. The threats are a common tool our difficult children use to try to control us. I told my son every time that I was going to hang up and call 911 and the police would be right there.

    I love your description of water torture. That's exactly what those calls and texts feel like, I think. My therapist pointed out that the nice things about cell phones are that they can be silenced and texts can be scripted. He suggested we have a "canned" text response to use if the water torture got to us. We could send that and nothing more. It was something like "We love you and hope you get help. When you _____, (in difficult child's case sober and working) we would love to hear from you."

    My son is the same age as yours. Like yours, he was pretty much a great kid until around age 13, then went south in a major way. It is hard to believe I have spent the last EIGHT YEARS of my life trying so desperately to "love" him out of his bad choices. It is a fruitless exercise. The fact is, my son is a grown man. He needs to provide for himself. Whatever sort of person he wants to be beyond that is up to him.
  17. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Albatross, I love this.
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This is an almost impossible concept for me. To this day, I see a toddler first, in my imageries of my children. I feel a rush of protectiveness.

    And I feel joy.

    Such a big piece of learning to allow myself to care for myself ~ to even think that I matter at all in the midst of one crisis or another ~ has been to superimpose the imagery of the adult my child actually is over that toddler's face.

    I wonder whether all moms do that. I believe that we do.

    I made a resolution at the New Year to be kinder to myself. It is surprisingly difficult. I don't know whether I could do it at all if one of the kids were in crisis.

    COM is right, though. Self care is where we have to begin, if we want to pull our shattered selves together.

    I think I'd forgotten that a little, COM.

    It is good to be reminded.

    Changing the pattern of interaction when our children are in crisis is, for me at least ~ at least for now, for this time ~ impossible. But I have begun changing the dynamic by using terms like "I want you independent" and "You are not a beggar" and "You are doing well." and a variation of "All is well". Or for my son, "You need to stand up and become the man I raised you to be." or "You were raised better."

    Taking care of ourselves is an intention, is when we make an intention. It changes the underlying dynamic, changes the words we use, when we think of ourselves.

    This is a good point.

    It is my intention to protect and to celebrate and to care so deeply for...myself, for me. Joyfully, I am going to become my own first priority.

    Over the years of crisis after crisis, I have developed a PTSD response to peace. There is a tightening that happens, a sort of guarded watchfulness that progresses to full blown anxiety as I try to prepare for whatever it is that is coming.

    I always feel stupidly guilty when something bad happens. That is the feeling I am trying to prevent. It is fear of that feeling that causes the mounting anxiety. Flashes of PTSD over the phone call that changes everything. It is good to know this, and I will work on it.

    I think those are the feelings, those underlying anxiety/responsibility/dread feelings, that we address when we make a conscious decision to take care of ourselves.

  19. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I love this! Thanks Alb.
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Cedar, my dear friend, reading this made me feel so sad. Forgive my directness here. I feel as if I want to fight for your love of yourself. I believe that thinking is harmful to you. Your children are not toddlers, they are full grown adults making adult choices, you seeing them as toddlers and feeling protectiveness and even joy is far out of the realm of reality..........and I would venture to say, it keeps you stuck in a cycle of self abuse.

    I don't think all mothers impose an image of a toddler over an adult child's face. I think we do that when we are heartbroken about how it all turned out with our kids. I also think seeing them that way continues the way of thinking that they are victims who require our care. I think it is an unhealthy stance to take which perpetuates our guilt, our responsibility for their lives and their choices and keeps us stuck in continuing to try to fix them. And, helps to keep them babies who can't fend for themselves. If you see them in that way, you are not truly seeing who they are now, who they have become. You are not "seeing" them, acknowledging who they are, their presence in the world NOW.

    Oh Cedar, our kids may always be in crisis. Does that mean that you can never be kind to yourself, or if you were, it would have to end if your kid(s) were in crisis? Why is that an either or situation? Can you love yourself wherever your kids are, whatever they are doing?

    Everything I've read lately with the Pema Chodron books, all the therapy I've had, all the spiritual teachings talk about compassion and loving kindness towards ourselves being the one thing most of us don't know too much about and what has to change if we are to live lives of equanimity, compassion, joy and peace. Your children do not come before YOU. YOU come first. If you were to continue teaching them that they come before you, you rip them off of their own ability to see that in their lives, that they matter, that they come first. Not from a position of selfish actions, but from, 'I love myself, I care for myself, I honor myself, therefore I can trust the choices I will make about YOU. I will teach you, by example, how to love yourself.' Not to love you more then I love myself, I actually believe that helps to mess our kids up.

    Loving yourself Cedar, is the greatest gift you can give to ANYONE, in particular, to your kids. I am convinced now, that that is what my daughter needed to see in me, my own love for ME. That gives her the permission to go out in the world and feel good about herself. Not you or I dying under the weight of their lives. Not you and I doing everything to make their lives better while ours goes in to the toilet. Not us punishing ourselves for the choices they make. That is not right. They don't want us to forfeit our lives for them. And, they know when we are doing that. Did it ever occur to you that THAT is why they get so angry at us, that they know that somewhere inside, even if it is out of their awareness, and they hate us for hating ourselves? It's occurred to me as I have emerged out of that dark place myself and began loving myself.

    A therapist I had told me that we tend to stay in places where we are the most comfortable,even if it is a horrific place, we know it and we can deal with it. You've lived in that state of PTSD all of your life. From an abusive background to having children who abuse you. This is your comfortable place. Peace is fleeting for you and when it arrives, it will then usher in the anxiety which comes after the next dramatic event. We brace ourselves for that and become rigid and fearful all the time. That is your only experience Cedar. That doesn't make it real. It's become your perception of life and our perceptions become our life.

    What I had to work on, and this is far beyond my difficult child, is to love myself, to accept myself and to honor myself. These are not just buzz words to throw around, this is a matter of profound significance which must be addressed if we are to shift this dynamic with ourselves and with our kids. This is not about our kids, this is about US. As I understand the act of intention, the intention itself will bring up what is in front of that intention, what is preventing that intention, so that we can deal with it. That can be a tad overwhelming if the intention is as big as to be kind to yourself when being kind to yourself is foreign to you, which it sounds as if it is. You are very kind to us, you are very kind to your children. But you are not kind to you Cedar. Your preciousness has not been revealed to you yet. I believe you have to uncover that. Out of that, in my belief, will come resolutions with how you are with your kids.

    Putting that focus onto ourselves is the single largest component of healing from enabling or rescuing or over loving or whatever you want to call it. If we focus on ourselves, if we love ourselves, we begin to see the world differently, we make different choices based on operating from a whole and complete self which has the solid stance of inner certainty.

    You my friend, are like I've been, a women without a center of grounded, solid form and matter because we were not taught to love who we are. That has been my journey for many, many years before my difficult child hit the will continue to be my journey whatever my daughter your eyes to really see the absolute preciousness of who you are..............separate from everyone, your mother, your kids, your husband...............all alone, you are deserving of love and loving yourself. If it feels right to you Cedar, make a commitment to stand firm in your own commitment to YOU, regardless of what happens with your kids or anyone in your life. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of a life of peace and comfort. And, I am behind you a thousand percent. Right here with you.