These last miles are a bear

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by slsh, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    When I first came to the board, I was told raising a difficult child would be a marathon. Oh my gosh... I feel like I'm on mile 19 and pulling myself towards the "finish line" by my nails. (Yeah, I know, like there's going to be a "finish line".).

    There's nothing new going on and I think that's the problem. We've been having the same conversation for 8 years now. He asks when he can come home. Now it's to the point that I just say he *knows* when he can come home (when he follows rules and behaves in a civilized manner for 6 months, consistently). And this is followed by 25 minutes of thank you trying to find a loop hole. If he goes to school (big if) but sleeps through all his classes, that shouldn't count against him. He shouldn't have to quit smoking (uh, it's *illegal* Tyler). How many "bad days" can he have in a week? <primal scream here> Honestly, if the kid ever got his act together, I'd pay for law school because he would be one *heck* of a lawyer.

    And then when he discovers that nothing has changed in terms of expectations since his last Residential Treatment Center (RTC) admission 3 years ago, he spirals into a deep depression because he's "never coming home". Uh, ok. Your choice.

    Heaven help me, but the count down is on to 18 (1 year, 1 month, 15 days give or take), not because I will be relieved of all the worry and anguish, but because finally this huge distraction of "living at home" will be done once and for all. It will no longer be an option. House rule - 18 and in school full time or get a job/apt/life.

    husband and I are almost overwhelmed with what will happen at 18. He's completely unprepared to live on his own and adamantly refuses to take an active role in his own life. Refuses to ask for help, refuses to follow directions, refuses to do anything but be a passive ameoba. Doesn't "need" supported living arrangement or supported job because, say it with me, "it'll be different then". We think we are going to be faced with the choice of rescuing him from his own poor choices, knowing full well that our rescue will simply delay the inevitable and will not prompt him to make any changes, or stand by and watch as ... whatever happens. It just brings me to tears frequently, but I'm also really *really* angry that we're going to be put in that position.

    I have to resist the impulse to sit him down now and tell him point blank that he cannot come to live home, period. That it's time to buck up and figure out what he's going to do with his life. I can't do it though because I know he will hear that we don't want him. Oh my gosh, we *do* want him... healthy, whole, happy, productive, safe.

    How do you survive this transition? How do you keep your heart from just shattering (again)?

    On a positive note, after his late-nite AWOL followed days later by an arrest, we have stepped up the (outward) detachment around here. He calls with various minor opportunities for me to get sucked back in (I skipped today, I'm only missing 2 tests because I slept through school, I lost my cell phone, etc.) and my answers range from "interesting choice" to "I'm sure you'll figure it out" to, when I've reached my tolerance for tongue amputation, "it's really none of my business, thank you". He never calls to ask for help (really, he only calls to see if he can come home for the weekend or to 'fess up to his latest stunt), but I'd *gladly* offer advice or assistance if he asked. This passive-aggressive stuff just isn't going to fly. He absolutely *hates* the fact that I'm not engaging. He actually told me last phone call that this is worse than when I was lecturing.

    Just wish I knew how to get him to participate in his own life. We've started a "hope chest" and were hoping the set of pots and pans for Christmas would nudge him a bit - nope. Maybe the silverware and sheets for his b-day will make more of an impact???

    Sorry - just needed to vent - been fretting over him more than usual for the last several weeks. I feel so completely useless/powerless/impotent.
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member


    I'm so sorry that thank you is refusing to grow up. Can the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) take the heat on this one and tell him that he cannot come home (not that you won't let him but that they won't let him?) What is the plan when he turns 18? can he stay at the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) until 21 or does he have to leave?
  3. PonyGirl

    PonyGirl Warrior Parent

    Sorry for your pain, Sue! I don't have any magic answers (I know, you're just shocked, right?) but I wanted to say, your comment how thank you hates the fact that you're not engaging, that struck me as very hopeful!

    He says this is worse than when you were lecturing him? That's good! Just have to keep on keepin' on, my friend. A lot can happen in 1 year, 1 month, & 15 days or so....

    ((((BIG HUGS!!))))

  4. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    OK...........seriously know how you feel. I wish I had a million words of advice......but I don't........but I feel your pain.

    I just wish, for one minute, I could really, really get what goes on inside these kids. If for even a second, I could reach my kid, and somehow lite the fire that causes him to make a change. I just feel so hopeless lately, and worried, as you do.
  5. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Honestly, I think this is a really good thing. You might actually be scaring him a bit. Because if you're not going to get all worked up about his choices and his life, HE just might have to.

    And I agree, alot CAN happen in just a year's time. I've seen it with my own difficult children. And I can recall most especially with Travis fearing that he'd never pass age 12 maturity wise.

    I do think the "last" miles can be the worst. I know for me it's been rough. My biggest hang up is that I'm afraid I might not ever get the two difficult child's outta my house. (notice I'm not laughing) And this fear is STILL there with both of them doing so much better these days.:embarrassed:

    Has the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) spoken with you at all about what will happen once the magic birthday rolls around if thank you hasn't improved at all?

  6. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    I too think it is good that he doesn't like the way you are not being pulled into his dance. He may not take control over his own life til he really has to--that was my experience with my own difficult child. I think you understand this from reading your post. You are doing great--you are well aware of what is going on--you are miles ahead just from understanding what he is doing. We kept trying to help our difficult child, thinking that would give her the push she needed to get going on her own. It took a long time before we realized she would remain helpless til we quit helping her. It was scary to force her to stand on her own 2 feet but the anger and resentment we were feeling helped us along!
  7. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    If he stays in high school, he will be eligible for continued grant funding and placement until he hits 21. His current placement is more a group home - I should probably change my sig to be clearer. It's not locked, he is free to do pretty much as he pleases, though there are (in my humble opinion) minor consequences if he goes AWOL or whatever. This is supposed to be a transitional living program and I think it is a decent one for kids who are working it. For kids who aren't, I think it's more a waystation. Once he ages out (if he sticks around that long) at 21, he will have a foot in the door for the adult mental health program run by same agency - group homes spread around the metro area, supported independent living, supported employment. One of the things I never have liked about the program is the assumption that the clients will apply for SSI as adults and have that funding - there's really not much of a push for self-sufficiency. on the other hand, I question whether pushing him would make him any more prepared - I just don't know anymore. Age old problem of dragging the horse to water but not being able to make him drink.

    But the resources and supports will be there for him, *if* he chooses to use them. I think he will need to but that grandiose thinking of he knows it all and needs no one has just been magnified by the teen years.

    There's a minimal therapeutic component at this point, which is okay with me. Heaven help me, 13 years of therapy with this kid later, it's either taken hold or not. He's not invested in therapy at all and my forehead is flat from banging it on the wall.

    Because I always have to worry about *something*, LOL, my concern is that he's going to get the brilliant idea when he hits 18 that he's an "adult" and that he's ready to go out on his own. Nothing I can do about it so I guess I need to make peace with the possibility *and* emphasize that he needs to not look at home as a sure-thing safety net.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    It is a marathon as I sit at mile marker 23. What changed was me. I constantly had as my goal to get difficult child to change his behavior and grow up to be independent. A cure to be exact. He couldn't/wouldn't do it.
    Now, my goal is to get him in an environment that he can reach his full potential and go as far as he can or wishes to go.

    In our case, I do not believe difficult child has the correct circuitry to see what he needs for a future. Can not see that his anxiety stops him from success. Can not see that the same behaviors result in the same response.

    The real world of living in an apt. alone with all our supports was not a life. He told me he learned to not argue with the boss(this is a big lesson). So life experiences have forced his thinking process to where all the practice sessions didn't. take him.

    We didn't/couldn't abandon him. He doesn't have the ability to be on his own completely. We didn't coddle him. We didn't let him go hungry. We were prepared for that to be his life. Fortunately, he didn't want that forever. He has taken some initiative.

    I think when I told him that I promised to never make him go to school again that he was shocked and maybe a little upset. I think he read that I gave up. He needed the gut check.

    You are in the transition of realizing his potential and realizing he isn't going to be cured. Not in the immediate future. Considering Abbey's experience, you may see something happen in his 20's after he has fallen and stumbled a few times.

    You have my sympathies. I feel at peace with difficult child's life wherever it may take him. He gets to make choices and I will support the ones that are healthy. Other choices are his to figure out.
  9. Coookie

    Coookie Active Member

    Oh Sue,

    Your thread brought tears to my eyes. :( You exoressed feelings that I have felt over and over again.

    With me I had to change the way I think. It is a process that is continuing daily. Not engaging is a huge part of that process, and I found with my difficult child when I didn't offer info.... he would ask which made it easier for him to listen I guess. It didn't happen all in one day... and I believe it will be a lifelong thing.

    I know your heart is breaking, that you wish things were different... that is a wish we all have too.

    Sometimes taking it a minute at a time helped me. Was there anything I could do to change the situation now.... the answer was usually No!

    I have come to believe that the pain of a mother's heart is almost indescribable. Not that dad's don't feel pain, not saying that.... but I believe we are wired differently and wounds, especially when it comes to our difficult children, are deep.

    Sorry, guess I'm just rambling but I understand your pain. :brokenheart:

    Sending gentle hugs
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911


    When thank you figures out that the world doesn't owe him anything and really feels it in his heart - he'll get it together. Right now - he's not really doing without - so how could he learn to do anything?

    I keep telling myself that if Dude has to survive on the streets - he'll be alright. I'm less than 8 months away from his 18th birthday. I dread and am happy all at the same time - Could he support himself, get a job, keep a job? Nope. Are the streets the right place for him? Not really. Could he get a job? Keep a job? I just don't know - but he's going to have to figure it out on his own.

    If I died tomorrow - he'd be on his own. And all our lives we're teaching our kids skills so that when we aren't there - they can survive. thank you hasn't had to do without anything - when he does and he's on his own - he'll have to figure it out. Trust that you've raised him to figure out that much.

    In the mean time - hope that the program has a kid that thank you thinks is really getting his mess together and wants to be like - our kids mature so slowly.

    Big hugs
  11. zigweegwee

    zigweegwee New Member

    Sending more hugs and sympathy. I also think you're doing great judging from what you said, and I understand where you are. Only God knows what these kids are going to need to finally shake some reality into their weird little minds. In the meantime, all we can do is control our own responses and pray for them. Good job and keep up the good work!
  12. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member


    I have pondered and pondered this thread. I kept trying to think if there was anything wise I could say to you. Nope.

    I think you have done all you could do to attempt to get thank you to the best place he can be at his level now and it is up to him from this time forward. Is he ready for all this responsibility? I think that is a huge no. I hope he doesnt get it into his head that at 18 he is now an adult and can do what he wants. If he does, I would be applying for SSI for him so fast his head would spin so he could have at least some income and medical insurance. He would probably qualify for income based housing then if he refuses to stay in the placement he is in now.

    He may never be able to hold a job for more than extremely part time work. I am questioning if Cory ever can. Cory tries and then gets mad and gets fired. But two different kids and Cory has done some things that will leave me in a position to really walk away eventually. I hope thank you never does that.
  13. mrscatinthehat

    mrscatinthehat Seussical

    We are on the countdown with difficult child 1 here as well. We are hope chesting her. Of course we are hope chesting easy child also but she has a whole different perspective.

    Now that difficult child 1 is not on her chip program she is not doing as well. At this point I have no real advice I just can say I feel your pain. It is such a long hard battle to get them to where they need to be and when they don't want to get there it makes the battle even worse.


  14. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    There are a few of our members with kids in the home stretch. My heart absolutely bleeds when I read their pain.
    Reaching over from DuPage County, Sue...and giving you a hug.