The Apple and the Tree...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Elsi, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Well, C reached out to me again, so I know he's alive at least. But of course, there is drama.

    After a couple of days of sleeping rough, he reached back out to his dad again and begged for another chance there. He's never asked to move in with me - I think he already knows what my answer will be, and he seems to respect that. He knows I love him and he knows I will offer help only when he is genuinely helping himself.

    He agreed to all of his dad's and stepmom's conditions - staying sober, getting a job, out by November 1. And apparently he actually DID get a job - full time - at a manufacturing place near his dad's within 24 hours of moving back in there. He's supposed to start there Monday.

    And then, of course, things fell apart. The same day he got the job, his dad told him they had changed their minds and he needed to get out again now. According to C, he did nothing wrong to deserve this - apparently, his step mom's nieces are moving in because her brother is headed to jail (meth), and stepmom decided she doesn't want him in the house after all. Even though the nieces won't be coming for a couple more weeks, they want him out now, and didn't even let him stay that night. At least, that is the story I got - I will never know the other side.

    Things then blew up between C and his dad, big time. All of his anger from the past came out. His dad was extremely abusive to all of us, but he always did seem to have special vitriol towards C as the eldest. (I think it has more to do with dad's relationship with C's bio mom than with C himself - he thought she 'trapped' him by getting pregnant with C.) I did my best to try to protect, but C has understandable anger and bitterness towards his dad for what he did to him as well as for what he did to me. He feels like his dad owes him now to make up for all his failings during his childhood. So when his dad told him to get out - less than 24 hours after telling him he could stay - he lost it. Huge, violent, physical fight ensued between the two of them. He's bigger and stronger than his dad now. He's not sure how badly he hurt him. He's not sure if his dad is pressing charges. He doesn't know where to go or what to do next. He knows his temper is out of control - just like his dad's - and he's scared of his own emotions and his own strength.

    He won't be able to keep the job, because there is no place else for him to stay that is within walking or biking distance, and there are no other transportation options without a car. He's back in the city now, on the run from the consequences of last night. All of his stuff is at his dad's, and it's not looking likely he's getting it back, so he doesn't even have a change of underwear to his name now.

    I don't even know what to hope for anymore. Part of me thinks it would be better for him to be arrested and face the consequences, even if it means going back to jail. Maybe he would be hooked up with counseling resources and a halfway house on his way out. Maybe he would have to face the fact that he can't blame his current choices and actions on his past. I told him he doesn't get a pass on this, any more than his dad gets a pass on his behavior because HIS dad beat him. It's all one big cycle of anger and abuse, back through the generations.

    He's vacillating back and forth right now between genuine regret, fear of the consequences, and then back to anger and feeling like his dad deserved this. And his dad was truly awful and violent, towards all of us. I don't know why C thinks now would have been different between them than it ever was. I don't know why any of them keep trying.

    I feel so helpless in all this. And it brings up so much of my own anger, sadness, and regret from the past. I stayed with that man long after I knew I should leave because my eldest three were not mine biologically of legally, but I was all they had by then. I was told by two lawyers that if I left there would be no way I would be able to get any kind of custody or even visitation rights, because I would just be ex-stepmom - no legal relationship anymore at all. And if they went to CPS after that, I wouldn't even be told because of privacy laws. So I stayed, making the calculation that me being there and doing my best would be better than letting them go into the foster care system. I was afraid of all of the awful stories you hear about abuse and dysfunction in the foster care system. But now I second guess that choice. Maybe I should have walked early, called CPS on my way out, and let the chips fall where they may. Maybe getting them away from their dad, even if it meant foster care, would have been better in the long run. I just don't know anymore. All I know is there is a hell of a lot of damage done, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to undo it.
  2. Looking2BFree

    Looking2BFree New Member

    Oh Elsi. I wish I had words of wisdom to help ease your heartache. The fact that you stayed in an abusive relationship so those children continued to have you speaks volumes as to what an amazing soul you are. There are many that would have ran without looking back but you didn’t run. I would bet all three (despite lifestyle choices) are grateful you stayed. I am terrible in the advice department but I know others will be along to provide words that will help your hurting heart.
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  3. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thank you, Looking. I don’t even know if there is any advice to give ... it just helps to hear from others who are walking similar roads.
  4. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member


    It's so tempting to play the 'what if' and 'if only' game. Most of us do the best we can under difficult circumstances, and there's no way of knowing the outcome. Don't beat yourself up.
    I once said to my therapist that maybe my son would be doing better if I had been harder on him. Her reply was 'maybe,' but he might also be doing worse.

    My 32 year old difficult son was angry that I won't take him in. He blames his stepdad and me for everything bad in his life, and now he's back in jail. As they say in 12 step: I didn't cause it, I can't control it, and I can't cure it. That is up to your son, and like mine, it sounds as though he has a long way to go, but that doesn't mean doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

    Prayers and positive for you and your family.
  5. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Don't play the what if game. It is just as likely that something worse could have happened rather than something better. I think it is amazing that you cared about those children so much that you stayed in an abusive relationship to help them. Sounds like the dad is a real piece of work, unfortunately the son got the nature and the environmental ques fro him. the situation is sad. what does the son want you to do about it? with his anger issues it isn't like you want him in your home.
    can you help him get a place to stay near the employment , at least he was trying to help himself until it blew up. If he was telling the truth.
  6. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Acacia, Tired - thank you both so much. It’s so hard not to play what if. Looking back there are so many things I wish I had been able to do differently. I ask myself if I could have been stronger, if I could have made them safer. I wonder if things would have been different if I’d been able to raise them on my own. But you’re right - maybe not. How much of what our children go through is biological, chemical, and entirely out of our control? How much influence do any of us ever have? It’s hard to know.

    Mostly hearing about this latest drama just brings back all the memories and the nightmares.

    I can’t have him here. He is struggling with so much rage in addition to the addiction issues. He says there isn’t anyplace he can stay near the factory job. I don’t know the area his dad is in now - it’s an hour away from where I am - so I’ll have to take him at his word. I told C I would help him get set up in a sober living home if he’s ready to do that. I gave him some places to start but told him he’ll have to do the legwork to make it happen. I feel like it’s important that he wants it enough to put the work in instead of passively accepting. He says he’s willing to do anything to get off the streets. We’ll see. I told him I also need him to agree to go to a counselor while he’s trying to get sober. He has to work through this rage and find a way to let go of the past and move on. I just pray he can do what his father was never able to.
  7. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Oh Elsi, I had no idea you were the stepmother of this young man...You come across as his mother and I see why. Women stay with violent men for many reasons - yours is really the only truly good reason I've heard. It was very admirable of you to stay to protect them.

    You did all you could, then and now.

    There is nothing that you can do that will fix your son's situation. He cannot stay with you. It is clear he is too volatile and too dangerous. I truly hope you find an answer, but fwiw, I think you are doing all you can. You are there to be support, a resource for getting him into sober living, a sounding board if necessary. That is all you can do for him now.

    Don't second guess the past or your actions now.
  8. bluebell

    bluebell Active Member

    I understand about the memories and the nightmares coming back. I thought the violence days were over and boom we were right back there in a matter of minutes. My son is almost 22 and I can't imagine this going on for another ten years. You are truly to be commended for sticking by this young man for so long.
    Let us know if anything happens this week.
  9. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thank you bluebell. Taking it one day at a time.
  10. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thanks Lil. My oldest three are all mine by marriage, my youngest is my only bio child. But I’ve been in their lives since they were small, and their bio mom has been almost entirely absent (alcohol), so I’ve never really thought of them as ‘step’. They’re just my kids. Unfortunately, they all seem to have inherited a toxic mix of their dad’s temper and mental health issues and bio mom’s addiction issues.

    You’re right, I can’t bring him here. I’ve worked too hard to get away from the violence and dysfunction. I’m better support when I keep it at a distance. It’s hard for them to understand that, though.
  11. OTE

    OTE Guest

    Sorry I have nothing but sympathy to offer.

    You might call the police station where your ex is and ask if they have a report of what happened. If there is an arrest warrant they'll pump you for your son's location. But you don't know. Then you can think about whether or not to encourage him to turn himself in. If not, maybe there's some sort of car pooling at the job. You could ask the HR dept anyway.
  12. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thanks OTE. I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I’m going to call. Part of detaching, for me, means not making those kinds of calls. I’ve done all of that - called police stations, called hospitals, called jails, called morgues. I can’t do it anymore. I have to trust that eventually the truth will find me, if it’s something I need to know.

    And on this - I don’t even want to know. I was t involved, it has nothing to do with me. If his dad is pressing charges, that’s his right. If the police call me, I’ll tell them honestly I have no idea where he is. I’m not hiding anything, but I’m not volunteering to be part of the defense or the prosecution.
  13. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    It’s been a really tough couple of days here. My partner’s father is dying, so she went home to be with him. We can’t travel together easily with our animals so I am here by myself holding down the fort. But this morning our elder kitty died in my arms. I’ve had her 20 years. I feel like I can’t really mourn fully, because after all my partner is dealing with a father dying, and of course that takes precidance. But it was really awful to see her die and be alone with her. And then C is MIA again, and I’m not doing a good job of letting go of worry. And I don’t have anyone here in ‘the real world’ who knows the whole story or what that feels like.
  14. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Elsi you bring tears to my eyes and my heart swells. You are a truly loving hero who put those kids before yourself and put up with a jerk for him. You still angst for C.

    But you and your partner are a team now. Please dont put them before her. See what you can work out with the sadness and animals. Having just had two pet scares that caused deep depression, I am so sorry about your cat. I may be odd, but I mourn my animals like people. I dont feel they are less important. Nobody ever explained to me why people matter more. Animals are kinder and love more than most people. So may your kitty stay by your side in spirit. I believe we and they live a better world.

    Love and light.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This was a terrible story.

    I feel such animus towards these people. They set your son up. They set him up to only kick him down, and spit on him in the street. And then, they kicked him more.

    I would have wanted to beat the :censored2: out of this man. Too. Oh? Wrong? Sorry.

    There is only one redeeming aspect. Your son has to face reality about his Dad, about his own lack of control and temper, his sadness, the abuse, etc.

    Oh. I am feeling for this young man.

    The thing that has to be done now, is for him to find a safe place to lick his wounds and from which to regroup. Do you know where he is now? Is there a family member or friend that can put him up for a week?

    Real life has asserted itself. There is no turning away.

    This is what I would counsel him to go: it is my answer to most anything. Job Corps. Other mothers say it is horrible. I love it. My son went. It is a free, federal job training program for young people 26 and under. It is residential. There are some great trainings, including electrician, computers, nursing, and lots of others. Entry level trainings. They feed them. They supervise them.

    When my son acted weird, they carried him to get evaluated for possible hospitalization, and they brought him back. Their range of tolerance is amazing.

    Other mothers say it is ghetto and horrible...and there is drugs. My son had no problems. Oh. He did hate it. But he did it. When he was 18. I told him he could not come home until he completed a training. He did.

    There are ethnic and class differences to navigate. Yes. There are all of the problems that you find in any city. Yes. But this program is designed to give a chance to kids who are poor and struggling, and it does. They will take kids with special education issues, disability, drug and gang histories, records, you name it.

    It could take a few weeks to get in. There are sites all over the country. My son went to a center in the middle of SF Bay.

    The other thing I would consider if I was your son is the military. If he is able to clean up his record. But this will take time.

    Could he go to a domestic violence agency for help? Maybe they could put him up in a shelter and give him what he needs to stabilize.

    We need to turn this around. He is a domestic violence victim. He is a victim of child abuse over years and years. He could go to the district attorney in the county where he lived with his father and file charges against him. There is no statute of limitations.

    With that he could get victims of crime benefits, which include extensive psychotherapy for the effects of the abuse under the victim witness program. Treatments for trauma. Somatic treatments. Or expressive arts therapies. Very, very good therapists work in this program. He would see people in private practice and the government would pay.

    He is a victim of a crime. Child abuse over years and years. He was beaten and humiliated. And it happened yet again. Oh. I feel for this child.
  16. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thank you for this. That’s how I feel too. I’ve always related more to my animals than to most people. She was a sweet and gentle soul who was there for me through the worst years of my life and the best. I’m glad we ended on the best. Our other animals are a comfort to me now.

    I don’t feel like a hero, then or now. I just felt small and scared and mostly helpless. I tried. I did my best.

    Thanks for this, and for your story. It’s so hard to know what to do when ‘the system’ is so uneven. I’ve known loving and devoted foster families that make me think it would have been better for them. And I’ve heard terrible stories of indifference, abuse, or unwanted kids being separated from siblings and shuffled around from house to house and school to school. My understanding is that legal changes in my state would make it easier for someone in my position to petition for visitation rights or be considered for placement if children were removed from their bio parents. It did not seem to be the case then. One lawyer told me there was no precedent for step parent rights in the state, and I should estimate at least $50k for a fight he could not guarantee we would win. It might as well have been $50million.

    I know! It infuriated me. They were under no obligation to take him in, but once they did changing their minds like that does seem worse than not taking him in at all. Like telling someone to jump from a burning building and then walking away with the trampoline while they’re halfway down.

    That said, I know I have only C’s side of the story, and I don’t really know what went down. Perhaps there is more to it. And no matter what happened, he knows he has to be able to hold his temper and not escalate. We’ve talked about how he has to own his own responses, no matter what outside circumstances are. Of course, he didn’t have a very good example growing up!

    I didn’t know there was no statute of limitations. Or that he could qualify for services. Something to think about!

    I guess I got used to the idea that authorities were not there to help. C’s dad was a cop. (Retired now.) so who were we going to call? He knew everyone who would have come, and he knew everyone in the court system if it went that way. So if I threatened to call when things got bad he would just laugh at me. Perhaps there would be a chance at some Justice now?

    I think C is too old for job Corp and he would not qualify for military. He actually tried to enlist when he was 21, and got rejected due to a couple of minor physical disabilities.

    He has had so much to overcome in his life, and I want so badly to see things start going right for him. I can’t give up on him, even when he’s messing up himself. But I know I can’t fix it all for him either. I can just be here to listen, offer guidance when he seems open to it, offer more substantial help when he’s willing to do his part and meet me halfway.

    I am intrigued by the therapeutic programs you mention. I’ll have to find out more.
  17. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your kitty and all you are going through. I wish I had words to help heal, but all I can offer is a prayer for strength and :hugs:.
  18. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Thanks, Lil. Hugs and prayers help, even over the internet!
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Oh dear. I should have paid better attention. He is 32.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I am so sorry. I have a younger elder kitty. I have posted about her. Stella. Who had her radioiodine treatment, and now M and I are radioactive because we obeyed none of the mandated precautions.
    I am so, so very sorry.

    In the night Stella and I have an intimate relationship. She seeks my warmth, mostly on my left side next to my heart, and I seek her. I am aware through the night lately what it will be for me, when she dies. She is irreplaceable to me.

    I feel very sad for your loss.

    I was so riveted by the predicament of your son, I did not see your post about your kitty. I am sorry for your loss. PS I would love it if Stella could live 20 years. She is part Siamese which have longevity, but she has kidney disease.


    Back to son. New iteration. I know how hard it is to get these guys to go where they need to go. But if he is homeless, maybe he will be more open to a program like Salvation Army, which is 6 months. I have heard wonderful things about it. My son would NOT go. But maybe yours would.

    I am forced to accept that every bit of help I have given my son has helped him avoid doing the one thing that will really help him.