the complicated way forward even when things get better

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Good morning from ice storm central. I wanted to give an update on things and just share my experience during this phase of it all.

    Brief recap: difficult child has been out of jail since June, started working early September (still homeless), after two months of seeing him work full time consistently trying, we helped him get into an apartment. He was working two jobs, now working one, 48 hours a week. Girlfriend who stabbed him last summer living with him, she was pregnant, had a miscarriage.

    So....Sunday difficult child, easy child and fiancee came over for dinner. easy child's birthday was Saturday-Valentine's Day, so we were having his birthday dinner. Sunday is difficult child's only day off every week.

    I texted difficult child during the day and offered our washer and dryer if he wanted to bring a couple of loads over. Background: I drew a hard line a long time ago about using our house washing clothes, showers, meals when he was in and out of jail and homeless. However, I know he doesn't have a with-d and I wanted to offer this, now.

    So he came. He brought easy child a birthday gift. He brought two loads to wash. It was really good to see him. Girlfriend wasn't with him. I asked, where is girlfriend?

    Well, she is in the hospital. She got really depressed and tried to cut herself this morning at 5 a.m. so I had to call 911 and she is going to a psychiatric hospital. She is depressed about the miscarriage.

    I asked if she has been taking her medications (she is bipolar). No she had an appointment to get back on them this coming week, plus birth control.

    I didn't say a lot of things. I said I am sorry, and I hope she is better soon. He spent the day with her at the ER and they were waiting to locate a bed for her.

    difficult child talked to me a lot Sunday about his job. He has been working here for 90 days via a temp firm. They have talked to him about bringing him on permanently after the 90 days and giving him a raise. He doesn't know how much. He makes $8.25 an hour and gets time and a half for the extra eight hours each week. He says he can pay his bills on that but it's hard.

    He talked to me about going to some kind of tech program/school to become an electrician. I gave him the cell number and email address of a friend of mine who is a director at a tech school here. She knows his story and she is expecting his call.

    He talked to me about all of the problems with his apartment (no heat, dripping water, lights that don't work, mold in light fixtures etc. etc.). He talked to me about all of his efforts to get the maintenance people over there, and the times they have come, and the problems that are still there. husband gave him some ideas about how to pursue solutions with that. difficult child said his dad told him he would get involved and then later say, no, you are 25 years old, you need to deal with this. (I silently applauded that).

    The mommy-in-me started doing the mommy-in-me thing, but I kept it inside and didn't say it.

    His car has a check engine light on and he said there are "20 codes". His boss at work is a mechanic so he is talking to him about making some kind of deal to get his car fixed.

    Across the room, easy child and fiancee (statistician and pharmacist) are planning a wedding (well, kind of) and trying to buy a house, before the wedding (what????). I asked about any plans/thoughts/ideas about a rehearsal dinner, which ex-husband and I will give, and easy child and fiancee got into a disagreement about the whole thing. Finally I shut up.

    We had a very nice dinner, all of easy child's vegetarian dishes he asked for, plus bbq chicken for the rest of us carnivores, and of course, the birthday cake, ice cream and presents. After a while, they all left.

    After reflecting on it that night and yesterday, here are my thoughts:

    ***People are just messy and chaotic. All people. Why couldn't I accept that and see that clearly before now? Why did I think things "had to be perfect"? Why did I think they ever would be perfect?

    ***People have to make their own way. Me doing it for them just plain does not work. It didn't work when my son was in the throes of addiction---jail, arrests, homelessness, throwing him out, talking arguing begging crying yelling giving giving giving paying paying paying helping helping helping....didn't change a thing. It wouldn't work now if I started calling the landlord, calling the tech school director, getting his car fixed for him. It doesn't work with easy child/fiancee who aren't getting their decisions made for their wedding. It doesn't work with husband who won't go and get a colonoscopy to find out about his stomach problems. It just doesn't work. I can't make or convince grown people to do things.

    ***The way forward for all of us is having problems, dealing with problems and learning from the whole process. THAT is how we grow. There is no other way to grow. Is it hard for others who love us to watch? Is it painful? You betcha it is.

    ***Loving fully and truly and unselfishly means letting people find their own way, and being there if we can, standing by, keeping quiet, offering just love and encouragement.

    All of this takes tremendous self control, which takes working on ourselves because we just aren't wired that way automatically. We are not wired to watch people we love struggle without getting involved.

    This is something we have to learn to do.

    I hear people in Al-Anon say that they are today grateful that they have alcoholics and drug addicts in their lives because having them there forced them to become better people who mind their own business, work on themselves and grow through the whole process. That sounds nuts the first 50 times you hear it, but over time, it becomes truth.

    My difficult child is so much better today. He was clear-eyed Sunday night. He was sweet and appreciative and he communicated and helped clean up the kitchen. Several times during the evening I hugged him and said I love you. I said, you are really doing great. I know you are dealing with a lot, but you are dealing with it. You are doing it. Keep it up.

    when he left, he had his clean clothes and some leftovers. He didn't ask for money. I didn't offer any money or promises of money. I am so grateful that I have learned (for the most part---I can still mess up!!!) just to keep quiet, listen and give him a big hug and some ideas every now and then.

    The old me would not have been able to do any of this. Not one bit of it. I was the biggest fixer and enabler. I couldn't rest without letting you know what you ought to do---my "great" ideas for your problems.

    I am beginning to see that THIS IS LIFE. This is what it is. It's not pretty. It's messy and chaotic and that is how it must be. My role at this point is to be here for my grown kids, have them over for dinner from time to time, be loving, supportive and encouraging-----and live my own life. That is my job. To live my own life.

    What a journey this is. Warm hugs to us all.
  2. Sherril2000

    Sherril2000 Active Member

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Your experience both gives me hope & understanding I am doing the right thing by no longer enabling my own difficult child. I'm sorry you have had to experience all this pain to get where you are today, though. Sadly, we love our kids so much, & only want the best for them. I'm so happy for you, you deserve some happiness for a change! [emoji173]️
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  3. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I am so happy for you.

    And I am learning this as well. I can't make Difficult Child do his laundry, go to the therapist, work on what was learned in therapy, call his doctor when he needs to, etc. etc.

    It's his journey, not mine. I tell him once, and then i don't even ask anymore.
    • Like Like x 4
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  4. HeadlightsMom

    HeadlightsMom Well-Known Member

    Childofmine -- Thank you for this gem. We are a messy lot, indeed, this human race. I am humbled and reminded of how messy I can be, myself.

    And, this? This is a phenomenal truth on so many levels. Sometimes I find it hard watching others I love grow during very difficult times. But, flip of the coin and........ I rarely consider how difficult it may be for them watching me grow during difficult times.

    How much profound and unexpected perspective we might gain if we could really walk in another's shoes. Not permanently (I want to keep my life), but to gain the life perspective of others in some deep and meaningful way? Well.......that would be a goldmine, indeed.

    Thanks for this really terrific post. You're a gem, yourself, Childofmine! And.......stay warm in ice station central! Take care and thanks for your insight and inspiration!
    • Agree Agree x 3
    • Like Like x 2
    • List
  5. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member


    You are such an incredible beacon for us all.

    You are honest and you share your progress on this rocky journey...and it is so inspiring.

    If Child can do this for herself and her son, then, %#$&, so can I.

    Thank you for sharing the good, bad & ugly...the chaotic mess of humanness. And, don't we all have it? Perhaps we have a luckier combination of genes, a different outlook, more advantages, a lights-on experience, whatever. But, deep down, we are all a chaotic mess. I love that. Not because it is pretty & sweet, because it is not, but because....wellllll... it is true.

    I often think about how we are all crazy, but some of us have tools to deal with it better.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  6. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    This is so very true. It is one of the rays of goodness that has come from the sorrow that has been difficult child.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  7. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    That says it all COM.
  8. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Yay! Lucy is back!!

    and I'm glad she honed in on that...we are happy, for you,Child of mine, that it was really good to see him. Hold that close.

  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    You are growing wise. Bravo! You are not letting bitterness eat away at you, and are moving on and taking charge of your own life.
    You are a great mentor for me and I applaud you. (And try to emulate.)
    I'm so glad you were able to sit there and hold your tongue. That's often the hardest part. :)
    Your son seems to actually be learning something and making plans, and getting things done. He does everything the hard way, but he *is* getting there. Messy, indeed. But he's better than he was before.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  10. 2much2recover

    2much2recover Well-Known Member

    These are all very wise nuggets of information. I especially like the part this part: "People are just messy and chaotic. All people." Because it speaks such truth. No one gets through life on rays of sunshine. A little rain falls on all and even an occasional thunderstorm. That is the chaos of living a life. If we didn't have troubles we wouldn't have any need in our life for growth to stretch our human potential.
  11. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Excellent post and thought, I really appreciate you sharing this here.

    This jumped out at me:
    Ahhh that mommy voice ... I've been battling that myself while Oldest is going through more health issues. After several weeks I'm finally back to biting my tongue on my well-intentioned "advice." It doesn't matter anyway, she's gonna do what she's gonna do. I'm keeping it inside, or better yet, learning to kill the mommy caretaking thoughts before even get too far. It's not my problem.

    Thank you!
  12. Heart Heavy

    Heart Heavy New Member

    I just joined this board since I just started dealing with a difficult child. All was fine until he turned 20. We think there are some psychological/drug issues but are just starting this journey. It is so very hard to quiet the mommy voice but I so appreciate your advice. He wants to fix this on his's just so hard to stand by and feel helpless yet I know it's the right thing to do. Sharing your story helped me.
  13. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    My son's rapid decline started when he was 19. I did a lot of "helping" for a long time and his behavior got worse and worse. Finally he had to leave my house---he was playing at college---a lot of money went down the drain. Finally the severity of the problems started to become very clear with his first arrest and his girlfriend calling me to come over to talk. I had no idea what he was really doing until then. They have an incredible ability to keep us in the dark and we go along with it very well for a very long time. We are usually the last to know the real story and then there is still so much we never know. And I don't need to know it now. My son "didn't have a problem" through all of this. He had it "under control." That is what all addicts and alcoholics think and until they think differently it will not change. Warm hugs to you and welcome. We are here for you. We are all struggling together and there is tremendous comfort in that.
  14. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    HH, it sounds as though you are a really strong person. You are miles ahead of me when I first joined this board! I was still thinking that I could sort all his problems and turn him into the person I thought he should be. I thought if I kept giving him money and advice that everything would get 'fixed'. You already know that this is probably not the best thing to do. I'm glad your son wants to "fix it on his own". This makes me optimistic for you.
    You could start your own thread maybe, when you feel it's the right time.