Something cooking with difficult child....

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Scent of Cedar II, Jan 17, 2008.

  1. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    We aren't sure whether things are better or worse for difficult child, but we think they are worse. I hate to believe these things that I am going to post about my own son.

    And I guess that is why I AM posting.

    All the warning signs have been there for awhile. More frequent phone calls, little vignettes about why money was so tight (which we handled really well, by the way.) :smile:

    The thing is, there were things difficult child was proud of, too. What husband and I told ourselves was that leaving difficult child to his own devices had been the right thing. We tried to remain uninvested in the outcome.

    difficult child would make it or not make it ~ and whatever his lifestyle, that was his right.

    But you know how, despite everything you know, you allow yourself to believe you are remaining detached when you aren't?

    And have you seen those commercials of the family at the funeral of the addicted person? The ads imply that this organization can make a difference, and that doing nothing will find you at a funeral, too.

    Which is our secret, most horrible outcome ~ the thing we have to battle, the outcome we have to accept, to stay detached.

    An 800 number flashes across the screen and someone says, "What are you waiting for?"

    I think I know better?

    But boy, that commercial just rivets me to the screen.


    I think it begins for me when the conversations we have had with difficult child have been pleasant ones. Then, when he says something, I get it that it only seems offhand to me.

    But oh, how I hate to admit that.

    What a sad thing.

    In any event, sad or not, scared or not, I know what I have to say.

    But I did not say it.

    So, this is what happened. I know I have to undo it, but I don't know how.

    And I keep hearing that stupid commercial in my head.


    Very sad, this morning.

    You know that one of difficult child's dogs had cancer. The dog did die. difficult child was angry, devastated, shocked ~ but nothing he did (or we did) could bring the dog back, of course. The other dog is older too and now, he is also sick. difficult child is doing a good and responsible job of caring for him ~ as he did, to the best of his ability, with the first one.

    So, here is the thing difficult child said that I did not respond to appropriately.

    He began by saying (as he has been) that he hates where he is and that he is going somewhere else once the remaining dog has passed. This is very sad for him, and like anyone would, I feel badly for him. But then, he said he intended to unearth the first dog and bring both to our house up north so he could bury them there.

    And it is beautiful there. I might think the same way ~ I probably would think the same way.

    You know how that is, when one of your pets dies.

    It is such a comfort to bury them with ceremony in a place you have been so happy with them.

    I have no problem with difficult child burying his dogs on our back lot. I loved those dogs, too. I haven't mentioned anything about this conversation to husband ~ another clue that something is fishy around here.

    I feel a little (a lot) like a traitor.

    I never saw it coming.

    That is my only defense, I guess.

    What I am afraid of, and the issue I don't want to address, is that, while difficult child wanting to start his new life up North again is absolutely his choice...burying his dogs in our forest means he will be at our house.

    And he has nowhere to live.

    And we are not living in that house seven or eight months out of the year.

    The thing that seems so cruel to me is that if difficult child were someone with a career who had decided to re-establish himself up north again, and wanted to spend some time there and lay his dogs to rest, I would not think twice about offering the house.

    That is what parents do.

    But I think ~ no, I know ~ that somehow, this is all beginning again.

    I can see myself sliding toward trouble here.

    What I need to say is something like ~ I don't know what to say. Something to the effect that I suspect that the reason things are not going well for him now is due to drug use, that my feelings on that have not changed, and that he cannot come home, even to bury his dogs.

    :cool-dog: :cool-dog:

    I don't think I can do it.

    I don't want to have to say the words I know I have to say.

    I don't want to be the parent I know I am going to have to be.

    What should I have said when difficult child slipped that one by me?

    I think I did not say anything.

    I think I popped myself into that little fugue state I snap into when difficult child says something I never saw coming.

    I know I have to be stronger than this, but I am having such a hard time with it.

    I know I should have said, "You cannot move back home, difficult child."

    I should have addressed it without addressing the dogs.

    I am going to have to toughen up again, I know.

    It is not fair to difficult child either, for me to have let that slip without telling him no.

    This is all so ugly. Knowing this is all going to start again is breaking my heart.

    Knowing the more frequent, more pleasant phone calls have been part of a calculated effort to...I don't want to know that.

    So, ladies (and gentlemen)

    I know where I need to be emotionally?

    It just hurts so much to know it.

    And somewhere in the back of my heart there is that little voice whispering "Maybe this time...."

    And that stupid, so sad commercial is in there, too.

  2. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Well, I have a first clue about what to do.

    Remember "Simple Abundance"? I was over on Healthy Living and someone had posted about that.

    Of course I cannot change what has to be done, next.

    But I can nurture myself through it as best I know how.


    P.S. Where is everyone this morning?!?

    I'm better, now. :smile:
  3. Coookie

    Coookie Active Member


    Sending you gentle hugs... many of them. :frown:

    Your pain is so real, BT too. :frown:

    It would be so nice if we could just take what our difficult children say at face value... and if what they say is really what they mean and want. :frown:

    Knowing what we should do and doing it, when it comes to our difficult children, is never an easy thing. :frown: NEVER!!!!!!!!!

    I really don't have any words of wisdom but I do understand.

  4. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Barbara -

    Hugs - sorry about getting here late. I didn't know you needed us.

    You know - when our difficult child's have manipulated us to such a point it is no longer that we "think" we are trying to be out-manipulated again. It's more that we as parents KNOW our kids tactics and we KNOW that they really had to invest a lot of time thinking about HOW to come in our back door; as it were.

    My sons brain on a schematic would have a rat running 100 mazes with the exit moved each time - and he would come out of it with flying colors. There seems to be something about their ability to switch gears, mid-motion that would be worthy of a scientific test. It's like super-brained children who can always figure out things when they are put to the test to change the situations to suit them. It's really nothing short of amazing and everything beyond exhaustion to parents. How DO you parent a child who keeps changing the course? I see a road, I don't know the area - I get a map. difficult child sees a road, he doesn't know the area - he plunges in full steam without worry or reason and comes out 99 out of 100 times successful. No map - just instinct.

    I know everyone loves the dogs - but WHAT better way to get your foot in the door with YOU than to say that the remains of former dog and remains of future ill dog be buried at YOUR house? How could you say NO? You didn't. Because YOU loved those dogs too.
    So maybe he's banking on the fact that you only live at "the house" 8 months out the year - and he's IN. And you know burying a pet is so traumatic - he could mask his behaviors under the guise of "I'm distraught."

    If your Mommy sense tells you it's starting again - STOP IT. Find the courage and just say NO. Say no for him if nothing else - force him to figure out what he's going to have to do without YOUR house in his future, without HIM living with you.

    Tell him you have no problem going with him on a road trip to bury your beloved pets - but ask him "So where are you going after that?" If he says "well i thought I'd just stay..." CUT HIM OFF and say "Well sadly - you've thought wrong."

    I'm having a blotto brain day - so if I've missed the point here totally - sorry. But I think you know you are being manipulated and you're RADAR is up - (good job Mom) and why SHOULDN'T your radar be up? He's given you every reason to put those safety devices in place for self-preservation.

    I guess I would say - if you get a feeling - don't doubt yourself. If you do - you'll be sorry. If you don't - the most it could lead to is difficult child being upset because you thought he was - but again - what has he ever given you to go on? History speaks for itself - and you can always say "I'm sorry." Saying I'm sorry to me would be better than saying "You're sorry and I was right."

    As far as the commercial - WHY NOT CALL? What have you go to loose? Maybe they have some advice for now, or future, or maybe you'll never need to use it - but you called. And remember - advertisers hire the best in the business - they don't make money by hiring someone that doesn't produce commercials to NOT make their business grow. If that was true Aflack would NOT have a goat and an orangutan in their ads now -

    Hugs for your hurting heart...
  5. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Considering your history with difficult child, he must have a plan before he can leave where he is and use your home as a jumping off point.
    No wandering in and out of your lives creating havoc and pain.
    If he comes to bury the pups, then he has to agree to a set number of days and a plan. Using the dogs as an excuse to get into your home is pretty manipulative behavior.
    Hopefully he is sincere but your concern is probably accurate. If he is using, he simply may not come,dogs or no dogs.

    I know your heart aches. All of us who have had to worry about a difficult child well being from a distance know how hard it is to stand strong.

    Nothing you said to him in the phone call is written in stone.
  6. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    difficult child just called.

    I am so glad you all are here. :smile:

    I felt better after having posted ~ like I always do. It helps me work out of that shocked place, I think.

    Which was fortunate.

    Coookie, thank you. You are so gentle and sweet, and I am so happy you are back with us.

    Nomatic, I don't know how to look at anything right now. I do know that difficult child's plan, whether he says so or not, is to move back home.

    And live there.

    And I know that, whatever his intentions are, drug use will probably become an issue if he does.

    We have done this so many times.

    I simply wasn't prepared for the "I am coming to live in your house" part when I was emotionally vulnerable because of the dogs.

    I need to be tougher, and I need to take extra effort to be gentle with both myself and husband while I do it.

    In any event, I just got off the phone with difficult child (who is now talking to husband).

    Somehow, the conversation included information on a high school friend whose parents just mortgaged their lake home so this person could purchase two pizza franchises. (Keep in mind that all of difficult child's good friends are no longer in the picture ~ so this was a bad friend, a druggie friend).

    The conversation devolved from that point into a variety of comments about expectation, and about what lengths other parents will go to to help their children.

    But I did well.

    I didn't know this was coming, didn't know what to say, so I was just honest.

    I used the D word. (Drugs) And the A word. (Addiction.)

    While difficult child was defending himself from what he believes are unfair accusations, I asked him to consider what it was like for his father and muself not to be ABLE to help him.

    I went so far as to ask what would have happened had we mortgaged anything for his sake during the past fifteen years.

    I asked whether he thought these parents were going to lose their home, or whether the son in question had been responsible, oome up with a plan, had his own portion of the investment already squirreled away, and simply needed a little more than the normal assistance any parent who could do so would give ~ for a dream that was a little larger than life too, but workable.


    The conversation cooled somewhat.

    The blaming, the self-righteousness, stopped.

    So I think I did okay. (I did read through the archives before posting, this morning.)

    Thank goodness.

    Simple Abundance.

    I do have much to be thankful for.

    I can do this.


    P.S. Nomatic? You are so sweet and gentle, too. I just realized I had leapt into answering your question and then, leapt directly into my own business this morning.

    Never think I don't appreciate your responses.

    I do, very much.

  7. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Star and Fran, thank you. I love it that I am not alone with this.

    I am so grateful you all are here.

    I am going to go and see what happened with husband and difficult child during the phone call, now.

    Oh, and here is a joke difficult child told me this morning (told you he was a charmer ~ at least, he used to be....)

    So sad.

    This is bringing everything back up again.

    That is where I need to be now, and I am okay with that.

    Anyway, here is the joke.

    What do you call a pig that takes karate? Pork chops.

    What do you call a ham that takes karate? Spamarai.


    You guys know I just made my green belt in karate this summer, right?

  8. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Here I am, replying to myself again.


    husband did not say that anything untoward was discussed during his phone call with difficult child.

    But, just a few minutes ago, he said he thinks we should consider renting that house up north out for a vacation home. (You know, where persons rent by the week or whatever?)


    There is a company where we live that does exactly that, cleaning and maintaining the home between rentals.

    Strange that neither husband nor I am saying anything specific to the other guy, but....

    This is a good plan, and I am all for it.

  9. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Barb, I do weekly vacation rentals if you want some info.
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I'm just now catching up on this thread, Barbara. Your reactions seem very expected and normal to me.

    I do hope that you and hubby will discuss this at some point very soon. I know that it's really painful. I think that you can find support in each other. Or maybe it will be that one of you takes the lead, and the other will support. I don't know that we always have to agree with each other about exactly what we will do, but it has surprised both husband and I in recent years that when we talk to each other about our concerns, from time to time he (or I) will have an idea about what to do, and I (or he) will say, "If this is something you are willing to take on, I will support you." Usually that part is the intermediary business, if you know what I mean. That way, if the one who is doing the "dealing with" part of the job starts to falter, we can go back to the other for support. Then I (or he) can jump in with advice as to how to accomplish the goal, or even step in and say "You know, difficult child, this is what your dad wants, and I have agreed to support him in this. You may want to work on alternate plans if this isn't working for you."

    Big hugs. You must be feeling like you've been in a cyclone today. Talk to your hubby. It's got to be done at some point. The sooner the easier...

    P.S. That commercial? That just seems cruel. I haven't seen it, but I don't know that I would want the help of an agency that said "give me your money or your kid will die because you are doing such a total [email protected] job." It seems to me they picked the right group of people to manipulate. They know we have been manipulated by our kids for years and it has worked in the past. Just plain cruel...
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Barb...what an excellent idea so you have an out without appearing to be the bad guy. It is hard to always be the bad guy.
  12. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Always having to be the back guy :censored2:, major. Especially when all we'd really like to do is offer a helping hand, but we can't.

    For what it's worth, I think you did wonderfully.

  13. Estherfromjerusalem

    Estherfromjerusalem Well-Known Member


    I am in awe of you, for two reasons: one is your ability to think things through in such a logical way, to set out the problem, to see it clearly, to be able to write it down -- I am awestruck. And the second reason is how you handled it. I think you are an amazing warrior mom -- and your armour is in order to protect yourself and your life with husband, which is so precious.

    I feel so inadequate. There are so many issues that I really should address with my difficult child, and also with my husband, and instead I just bury myself in my work (I am self-employed), and my detachment is completely passive, not something I have worked on.

    So I think -- you handled that so well. And the idea of rental is just brilliant! I hope things calm down again in your lives very soon.

    Sending you a big hug,

    Love, Esther
  14. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    I dont know the commercial either. That is all I need right now anyway. If you have the number I might call them. I have been feeling so guilty about my difficult child being where he is anyway. Barbara you have always been so good to send me wonderful posts and help me so much from your heart. I dont really know what to say to you because I am so far away from beiing as strong as you. I feel like I am in limbo because my son is where I cant touch him or anything - one day he wont be. I feel for you because we are all manipulated. We want to feel like they are telling the truth and that there is no underlying reason why they would want to do anything but than the truth. but so many times we get disappointed again and again that we cant trust nor believe them. We want to so much. So to you I say, pray. I guess that is all we can do - pray for wisdom to say the right things to him. I know how it is - I was so believing of every word he told me for 20 years - then it seems everything he told me was a lie or for an underlying reason - not for me but for him. I want to find out the number of that commercial. Thaat bothers me. hugs to you
  15. Scent of Cedar II

    Scent of Cedar II New Member

    Fran, thank you. I would appreciate learning more about how to do this. We are thinking we will just contact an agency up there and have them take care of everything. There will be nothing we can do for this year (hot tub is drained and all the windows are covered with styrofoam), or for the current potential situation with difficult child ~ but it will be a very good thing for all the years to come.

    Witz, Dammit, Lisa, and Stands ~ thank you. You help me to be stronger.

    And you all are right.

    It does so suck to be the bad guy.

    Except...I am learning to see things differently, I think.


    You know?

    You are right.

    I cannot be the only parent that commercial is tearing into. I will call the next time I see it. Once I know what organization it is, I will call the station showing it.

    It won't do any good, I am sure.

    But I will feel better.

    In my heart, I am very sure the organization / treatment center whatver, would not be able to help difficult child.

    It is so strange that you should have posted that you feel inadequate to your situation, Esther. Your posts shine with a sense of determined decision and quiet strength. We (me, too) become so frustrated with our own pain, and with the pain we see in those we love, that we take on that pain sometimes, I think. We need to learn to forgive ourselves ~ all of us, not just women and not just you or me ~ for not seeming to have met some standard, some perfection that we don't see in our lives, or in the lives of those we love.

    I am learning, too.

    In a way, what we do (women in general and mothers in particular, I think) is make the music of our lives from behind the silver bars of a cage of how things should be. We look out between those pretty, shiny bars, bars comprised of how we have learned to define ourselves, and we sing. Hearing our song, our families take their senses of identity from us.

    Like Fran says, the mother is the spindle around which the family comes together.

    Your family is together, Esther.

    You are there, and that is where they come to learn who they are and how they are doing.

    We forget sometimes (mothers and fathers both) that this is really what a family is. It is where we learn who we are, and it is where we learn more is possible. It is where we come to touch the core of strength in us.

    Those are true things, I think.

    But, when we look around us these days, what we see is some plastic image of perfection and so, we feel inadequate.

    I know I do.

    Inadequate to the challenge, overwhelmed by the pain, by the sense of futility.

    But here is what I was thinking, this morning.

    Well, I guess I didn't think it, now that I think about it. There is a writer I especially love. Charles Williams. In one of his books (I think Descent Into Hell) he writes something about how a sense of feeling that the challenges we all face, whatever the nature of the challenge, is unfair or unusual increases the seeming weight of the burden the challenge carries.

    I have been thinking alot about that this morning.

    In a way, I am fueling my own resentment over here, every time I blame difficult child for his situation ~ every time I allow myself to wallow in who he is not.

    This morning, I am trying to understand that of course difficult child does not want things to be the way they are ~ that his burden then, is an even harsher one to bear than mine.

    Somehow, that is helping me, this morning.


    Looks like I got off track again!


    In any event Esther, I think that every one of us is performing her role beautifully. We are the mothers and wives (or the husbands and fathers) learning love and forgiveness and compassion and modeling those same values for our families.

    You ARE doing the best thing, Esther. You, and me too ~ we all are functioning as the touchstone, as the spindle (like Fran says), as the place those we love come for the real scoop.

    Which is noble as all get out, when you think about it.

    You are there, Esther.

    You listen, and you love them, and you do your work and go on.

    Why our families don't get it ~ now THERE is a darn good question.


    But that doesn't matter unless we let it.

    What matters for me this morning is that I work at letting go of that sense of personal resentment which fuels so much of my pain.

    Here is an interesting thing, everyone. Asthma (or whatever it is that is making it so darn near impossible for me to breathe or eat or sleep lately) can be viewed, if you have a mind set to do so, as the body's response to my having been swallowing my anger and gulping down big drafts of resentment.

    Which I have been doing.

    Oh, boy, have I been whining to myself about how unfair this is.

    I heard something on Oprah yesterday about how our illnesses will tell us what we need to change in our interpretation of ourselves in the world.

    So, I went looking for those emotional responses I am too ashamed to acknowledge and claim.

    And you know?

    I found them.

    But it isn't a matter of condemning myself. (Because if anyone feels inadequate to her situation, Esther? It's me!)

    It's a matter of learning to STOP condemning myself.

    I think we all do that to one degree or another, when our children are in pain. When I think about Fran's statement about the mother being the spindle around which the family revolves, I wonder whether our families would heal more quickly if we were happier.

    If I were happier.

    If I were happier, would it be easier for me to be honest with difficult child?


    Without anger behind the words I need to say, I am only telling the truth. WITH that sense of buried resentment fueling my thoughts and words, I am afraid to speak the truth.

    Afraid to hurt difficult child ~ or anyone, for that matter.

    But...what if I allowed myself to accept, to feel gratitude for what I have left, for the moment I am in?

    Would the truth be a less fearful thing to contemplate?


    Looks like I am wandering off topic, again.


    And here is a thing I learned this morning.

    It was difficult child who brought up the renting the house out thing to husband.

    Apparently, out of the blue.

    Now, what the heck?!?

    So, is difficult child trying not to do what he sees coming, too?