Things are tough

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by toughlovin, Dec 18, 2016.

  1. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Not sure if I should post this in the PE forum or the SA forum so maybe I will just post it to both. As many of you know my 25 year old son is now living at home. We kicked him out when he was 18 and he has been in many programs, lived on the streets and then skipped town to avoid some warrants go this arrest. He recently decided to come back, turn himself in, do whatever time they required and try to get his life together. Our younger daughter is now in college and not living at home so we decided to give him support and let hm come home after he did his 2 months in jail. We felt that at this point we need to give him some support.

    And we have gotten lots of support over the years from here but also from a great alanon meeting. I have gotten clear that at this point he needs to figure things out and as long as he is respectful etc. he can stay here.

    Well can I just say this is tough. He is drinking some. He is mostly being respectful and ok. But man oh man I dont really like him living here. Mostly it is the annoyances. And it is that I am now confronted by how he is doing and his depression and his mood. When he is drinking he hides in his room so it is not like I am dealing with that directly... but I worry about him. I am thinking about him. I am wondering how I can help him. It is hard to stay detached from the outcome and from his problems when I see them happening. I feel sad for him.

    I dont know what if anything I can do. I need to keep taking care of myself and doing things I like but it is oh so much harder when he is under my roof.

  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've followed your story TL, and I'm glad your son is home and has dealt with his warrants, it does sound as if he is trying to change. And, that doesn't mean living with him is easy, I completely understand how you are feeling. I've offered my daughter the opportunity to live with us a number of times over the last 5 years and every single time, I ended up feeling as you presently do. I couldn't relax and enjoy my own home because of my daughter's behaviors and how they impacted's always been challenging for me. Once they are adults, living together poses so many issues for us, in my opinion, these living arrangements are best when they are temporary, to give our kids an option so they can get their lives in order......but even if temporary, they present us with our own responses to their often impaired and/or skewered thinking.

    It's a very difficult movie to watch in our own homes, which I define as my 'sanctuary' away from the world........ and then our kids bring that world right up into our face right there in our "safe" place. The disruption of that "safe" place for me, even if I was the one disrupting it with my thoughts and feelings about my daughter didn't matter, the "safe" comfortable part was now no longer "safe" and comfortable. Plus it was pretty obvious to me that my daughter did not want to be living with me either......the parent/child script was often just too hard to let go of when we were living together. It was "work" I just didn't feel like engaging in all the time.

    I know you are offering your son a safe and loving place to be while he figures out the next step.....I would do the same thing.....however, it doesn't mean it's easy. I had to learn to stop asking any questions and to detach as much as I could from the everyday stuff my daughter would do.....Perhaps amping up your own supports, therapy, getting out of Dodge when you can, doing a lot of nurturing things for yourself, refraining (my favorite word these days) as much as you sound as if you are already doing all you can do......and it doesn't make it easier..... Sigh. Acceptance of what is, for me, is always the tough part. It is what it is.........hang in there TL, at some point, this too shall pass........

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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    TL, my heart is with you. Because, actually, it is. I am going through a version of this now. I used to say when my son was on the street--that my own heart was walking around all over, having jumped out of my body, and I had no control over it at all.
    I know how this is.
    I know. But I also feel sorry for myself. I feel the lack of the ability (and sometimes the possibility) to feel pride in myself, in my own life. I feel the absence of HOPE for myself. I have always had a kernel of hope for myself.

    I do not know if you missed it or not, but I told my son to leave, again. Actually, I backed up M who told him to leave. After 2 months delaying a drug test for one reason or another--with lie after lie. He again refused. (It was Sunday morning, exactly 2 weeks ago. I was still in bed when the confrontation happened. Now I know why I woke up depressed this morning.)

    You see, I was ambivalent. I loved having my son near me. His presence. We have a several room wing in the house closed off with a glass door, with it's own bathroom. I could sense his presence, but it was not on top of me. He had finally learned to not dominate my kitchen/great room. (We had moved him to another house--but the night before he left, he was here. I had gone to get him because M had not come home. You see, M was going nuts with my son. He felt my son was mocking us with his defiance of his agreements.) Somehow, I kept going along. Because I wanted him to be OK. Because at the bottom of it all, I wanted me to be OK. The two, for me, are ONE THING sometimes.

    I loved having him near. The paradox: the marijuana elevated his mood. If he had enough of it, so that he did not cycle down, it was OK. But how could I countenance using hundreds of dollars for marijuana and subsidize it, by offering him a living space? And in the process inviting bad people to approach the other house--who brought down the environment of neighbors--good neighbors. When I had to face that, I had to accept the reality of things. He is no longer my baby boy. When I support him (either by help or any other thing) I support his habits.
    You see, for many years, this was the case for me. Ten minutes with my son around me, and I was a raving lunatic. But something changed in the past year-I believe he did get greater control over himself and his moods. Because even in the residential treatment centers, he was for the most part stable--without marijuana (he was tested) and with medication, yes, but he denied such had an effect.
    For us it was open ended, after all, we bought the other house, for him (not in his name.) But surely, we kept extending the possibility for him to do for himself, get things together, do constructive things--and this plaza, he used to continue doing the very things that we could not support--the marijuana--and no other thing.

    If he were here he would say: I went to Voc Rehab and got an appointment. I went to the mental health clinic and got an appointment. I called some creditors. (In 2 months? With no need to work because we had realized that he used the need to work for us, as an excuse to not do one thing for himself.)

    If he had said: Mom. Forget it. I cannot accept living with you or your property with the conditions you want. I chose to use marijuana to the extent I wish. End of story. You can decide if you want me here and the conditions. And I will decide if that works for me.

    But I realize more and more, I set him up to act like a child. I would never renounce the role as Mother-of wanting things for him, of wanting him to get better--and imposing what I wanted, because I love him, and I grew to love having him close to me.

    When I look at this now, I see how I set things up to infantilize him. I cannot see it in any other way.
    I think the root of it is it is their own lives. And there is something about those of us who choose to post here, who seem to have a very hard time letting go.

    In my own case it is both cultural and personal and spiritual. I believe my relationship with my son was in part redemptive. I wanted to redeem myself and my life--through my love for him. Of course, this can never work. Which is really, really not useful. I believe I am not alone in this.

    Nowadays everybody loves my son: they see him as kind, warm, bien-educado which for the life of me, I cannot translate. Literally, it translates, well-educated but for Latinos it means well-educated in human interaction, not only in manners, but socially, in terms of respect, of humility, boundaries, even grace.

    But with us he imposes his conditions on us, but deceptively. M describes it as an aggressivity, that he has learned to exercise covertly, which is really a hidden disrespect. M thinks my son thinks we are just old fools (which may well be the case.)

    I know TL this relates only tangentially to your own situation, but I wanted you to know that I am suffering too. Because I love my son, and I want him near me. And now he is gone. He has not called. I do not know where or how he is. I miss him so much. I feel like a large root has been removed from the heart of me. Which is exactly the way I felt after my mother died.

    There may not be one thing you take from this post. Except that there is no way we can NOT SUFFER, except for closing the door almost completely which is how many parents have come to grips with their love and loss. But when I did that for six months, in retrospect I closed the door to my own heart. To part of it, at least.

    Which is to say, every which way we are :censored2:ed.
    On the basis of my own experience, impossible to let go of. To resist being (or feeling) infantilized by my conditions, my son resisted by manipulating, lying, concealing. I set up a master-slave relationship which he rightfully opposed. As adults we need to live as we chose, not as others do.

    I see that, but I cannot live it.

    TL. You are doing every single thing with the highest intentions. It may be that your son is an alcoholic. To live with the reality of that--in Latin cultures many parents do. They watch their sons (usually) kill themselves. And somehow live through it. There is a man who works with M. His name is Huero. He is 52. He is alcoholic. Has lived always with his younger sister and her family. And now, he told M, I am trying to stop drinking. He wants to help his daughter who is 22 legalize her status here. He is cutting down. Although very damaged by his drinking, he is a very, very good man. I like him very much, and I trust him.

    M has said before, that this family demands things of Huero. Demands that he works. Because they are poor (and because there is no free government money, like with my own son) or maybe because they are strong and smart, they insist that Huero step up.

    On the basis of my own experience with my son, NOTHING HAPPENS unless we directly control his environment and him. And then? He overcomes much of it. I think that is what M means that I have to make myself directly responsible and accountable to my son. That this is my responsibility as his mother. That EVERY STEP OF THE WAY I insert myself between him and destructive behaviors. And he sees this as my responsibility for the rest of my life.

    There must be the concept of detachment in Latino culture, because M says if a child is overtly hostile and disrespectful and rebellious in the house of their parents--even a girl will be ejected. My own son has learned to curb this, but he has not yet learned to thwart the very conditions that he has agreed to, with us. I guess it is because he feels coerced.

    Maybe not one word of this post relates to you or your situation, TL. But I wanted to reach out to you in my own suffering, and in my own seemingly complete inability to find my way in this life thicket in which I find myself lost.

    I care for you TL and I care for your child. (And your husband and daughter, too.)

    Take care.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Just a comment.

    To me it is not good language to call social security free money. It is hard to qualify for it and a minimal amount for those who are unable to hold sustainable jobs. Social security is not given to anyone with ease. The person must prove he is unable to work. I went through this process.

    It is in my opinion unfair to us to keep calling it free money. I worked hard all my life but could not sustain a job. I tried very hard. I applied to get help from D V R and was told I had to apply for S s d I first. I did never thinking I'd get it but I did. My son with autism also gets it although he works two jobs. He makes $8.00 an hour but he works hard and hates to take a day off.

    We are not lazy. I would rather be able to work a high level job.

    I just wanted to correct this as my son and I are not lazy. A person must have severe disabilities to qualify for s s d I. Or you couldn't get it. Many people need to get legal help.

    Thanks for understanding. This is unintentional I am sure but it is hurtful. I am not ashamed of me, but it makes me cringe to read on this great site that our situation is being judged as cheating the government. I have seen this often and finally humbly decided to bring it up. S s i is very needed. There are many people who can't earn a sustainable income due to disabilities. Your son is one or he would not have qualified.

    How he spends it is up to him. Nobody makes you send them a list. That would be humiliating.
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    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your responses. It is comforting to know there are others who truly understand the dilemmas of being there, detaching, and letting go and how hard it all is.

    We went to church today and i was feeling a little sorry for myself thinking about how I would not be with both my kids on Xmas (my daughter does not want to see my son so we will see her separately and I understand her position and think she is right to set some boundaries for herself). It makes me sad. Then someone lit a candle for those in Aleppo and it put my problems into perspective!!

    So I am just trying to enjoy the things I enjoy, and at least be ok.

    My son did talk to me for a few minutes today, sharing a little bit about what's going on. I felt like we connected which at least felt a little better.

    I am worried about his drinking but there is nothing I can do about it. I cant control it. I am being strict about his car use and making sure he has not been drinking when he takes the car....i think that annoys him but he is accepting it. And like a true alcoholic he seems to drink alone in his room when no o ne is watching. I found some bottles today that he had hidden in m y daughters room and I was looking for a sweater. I think he was really embarrassed when he realized I found them. I told him no point in hiding it I know he is drinking. But I guess a part of me thinks him being embarrassed about it is a good sign.

    Anyway it is what it is.
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Tl? How do you know if he has been drinking?
    I am not sure. M is an alcoholic. He drank nearly all of his life. Even as a child. He stopped 19 years in MX and resumed a couple of years after he came to the States. He lessened his drinking when we met, but did not stop. Then something happened, an event, that was horrible. I did not tell him to stop drinking. But he knew somewhere inside of him, that he had crossed a line. He saw it. He decided. He never drank again. That was 6 years ago.

    All of the time before he was being pressured. He could care less. His wife did everything she could to stop him, to the extent that she put anti-abuse in his drink and he became violently ill and almost died.

    What I am saying is this, and I hope it is not harsh: He will drink as long as he chooses to drink. Nothing you think or know or do will make a difference. Having him home or not will not make a difference. It is what it is and there is no control you have at all nor do I, over my own son. Over and over again I believe this will change. Over and over again, I am proven wrong. Our sons will change as they choose.

    Like my own son, it is likely he may be more comfortable, and feel safer and more secure near you, with you; in our case, my son did change, but his use of substances, he determined in exactly the way he wanted. What I wanted or my opinions or responses or conditions, did not make a bit of difference. He did what he wanted. He just sometimes tried to conceal it, or lie about it. In the end, he prevailed.

    I see, now, it was as it should be. He gets to determine his own life. And me, I get to determine my own.

    That is the horror of our situations. There is not one thing we can or cannot do. We can support them or not support them. And detach or not. And they will either do or not do exactly what it is they will do. What we in our hearts know would best does not factor in. What we feel about it, is even less important. What we do about it even less so.

    I am struggling with the idea of consent. To what extent I am willing to endorse my son's behaviors by having him near me. Because I do give consent, if I have him close. I have to admit it. I do. All of the time he was with us, or near us he continued to use his marijuana. He did exactly what he wanted to do. Now I see that as long as I permitted it, I gave him cover. And by giving him cover, I consented. I do not know what to do about this, really. My struggle is very much similar to your own. By forcing my own agenda, I force my son to deceive me. I see how it works. And I see I am responsible.

    And each of us knows that there are people in this world who decide to change. And we hold onto hope. But know in our hearts that there are also the millions who do not, or cannot. And we hold onto our hearts. All there is left to do is pray. I pray for each of us. I do not know what else to do.
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    Last edited: Dec 18, 2016
  7. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Thoughts are with you, TL. I admire you stepping up for you son. It has to be tough and I know you are not exaggerating. My Difficult Child is too mean for this to work. I (almost) wish it could work for our family. Stay with us. Take care of yourself first.*

    *You know the drill. : )
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    My heart goes out to you. I can only imagine how hard it must be for you.

    On a positive note it's great that your son made a choice to own up to his legal issues. That really does say a lot.

    This is what really concerns me. If I were in this situation I would most likely tell him that a condition of him living there is that he has to remain sober. I would also suggest that he attend AA meetings.
    It scares me that this could spiral out of control. I don't know what your son is like when he's drinking, I only know how my son is and he becomes very mean and destructive.

    I know how hard it must have been for you to allow him to live with you but you still need to think of your own safety first.

    ((HUGS)) to you....................
  9. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    TL I posted on your other post to this post. Does that make sense? LOL
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is the exact think I struggle with. Except with marijuana.

    I came to the point where I made it a condition that my son not use marijuana when he lived with me or a place I owned. This was impossible to enforce short of throwing him out, which we did.

    This is the exact crux of the matter, that Tanya has put her finger on. And there is no right answer, for me. Do I insist as a condition of my support, that he live as I choose? Knowing that if I do insist this, that he will conceal the marijuana use, and lie to me?

    Or do I keep the boundary, insisting that he live away from me, as he may? Because if I do this, he is proven thus far that he goes from place to place. He either falls back more, or makes meager gains.

    With me, he really did get better. Became more stable, more hopeful, worked steadily for us, etcetera. I was happier, too.

    With alcohol and soon, marijuana, with the legal legitimacy and cover that society gives, our dilemma is just that, a dilemma.

    My concern TL is the loan of your car, because of potential liability for you, should somebody be injured or killed.

    As far as living with us, while using, I do not know, for me. Because I do not want to force my son into deceiving me. Nor do I want to force my son into a rootless, desperate life, in order to win a battle only he controls.
  11. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Copa you have the dilemma exactly. I cannot enforce any rule to stay sober. Trying to do that will just set up the dynamic of him lying to us . If he doesn't want to stop drinking he wont. I am concerned about the car use and have gotten a breathalyzer he needs to use before he leaves and when he comes home. We do not live near public transportation so for him to get a job he needs to be able to drive. I really don't think putting him back on the street at this point will help him. When he is drinking he isolates from us so at least so far we have not had to fear him if he is drunk. The one major argument we have had he was drunk but not violent in any way. What I do know is I can't force him to be sober and I want to avoid the role of policing him except when it comes to driving.
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  12. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    For myself, I could not have my son live in our home. The main reason is I do not trust him to not steal from us but also because I know there is no way I could enforce a rule of "while you live under my roof you have to remain sober". I know that my son would use drugs and alcohol and lie to me about it. I also know my son and he would take complete advantage of the situation and not in a good way. It would be my hope that "helping" him would spark him to try and gain control of his life. Notice my words here, MY HOPE, not my sons. My son has no desire to live what I consider a more conventional type life, ie; a good job, a descent place to live, a car to drive, etc.... I have come to accept that my sons life choices will most likely never align with mine and that is okay.

    This is it in a nut shell. Each of us can only do what we can live with.

    Helping is one thing but when our children take advantage of that help and are not actively working to improve their lives then we have crossed a line into enabling.

    As Copa said, there are not right or wrong answers.
  13. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    I think only we know what is best for us. Only we know what we can handle happening in our own home. Only we know what we choose to live with or not live with.

    My son cannot come home because I know if he did, he would morph right back into the same type of behavior he was doing when he was in our home. He did not respect our home and he did not respect us. He could not control this when he was NOT sober but it was his choice to be "NOT sober". He did not appreciate what he had. We have not given him a chance to come back once he was out. Will we ever? I don't know the answer to that and I don't have to know that answer right now. That is okay.

    When my son was doing all of that I felt so much shame, despair and so much helplessness. I do not want to live like that. I do not want my son on the street either and for us we have found a happy medium. We won't let this situation go on forever but for now, we are content. He is content but I feel that being away from us which is not what he desires will cause him to make changes that he needs to make. If that does not happen within a reasonable amount of time, we will reasses our situation.

    Just because you are doing something one way now doesn't mean you can't change it and do it another way as time goes on.

    I don't think there is any right or wrong answer. We all do what we need to do. There is no one size fit all solution here.
  14. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    This is exactly what we went through too, when son lived with us. When we first agreed to let him move back home, we told him that we did not want his drinking to be an issue. Over a period of 4 months it went from sobriety to solitary drinking to incapacitation to detox, rehab, and gaslighting when he disappeared for days at a time.

    I am sorry you are going through this, TL, but I admire your steadfastness. I do worry, though, that his isolated drinking is going to escalate and carry over into the rest of his life. On the other hand, I sure do admire him coming home and dealing with his warrants. That is a step in the right direction, I think, and a real show of faith on his part to want to turn his life around.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This relates to my issue with my own son about marijuana use, especially.

    I see this as an issue of consent. If I tolerate his use in my home or property I control, I am endorsing this behavior. I see it as a kind of consent.

    I do not know if I am right or wrong, but this is how I see it.

    I was about to cave in. Because after all it will soon be legal in my state.

    But M says we should take a stand while we still can. That we have so little leverage as it stands that we should not give in YET.

    When I see that his use of marijuana hurts him, destabilizes him after the effect wears off, and marijuana represents his greatest motivation, for which he uses all his money--so that he does not want to pay rent to live a normal life, or have any other thing than marijuana--I worry that allowing him to use it around me, is in effect saying.


    I understand they are adults. But I also feel that parents represent for their children, until they die, and afterwards, a touchstone, a moral force. I never had that. I wish I had.

    What are your ideas?
  16. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Thank you, Copa. I like this. I would like to think I could be a touchstone .... am sending a prayer to find the best way ~
  17. Kalahou

    Kalahou Active Member

    Tough, I could have written these very exact words. Reading your words took me back to feeling exactly the way you describe and it was not a good place for me to be. It got to the point that I was continually (no matter where I was or what I was doing) on the verge of tears. I could not talk to him without walking on eggshells. I did not want to come home and know he was in his room. Sometimes I could not eat. I felt I was really on my way to poor health.

    In my own situation, I had to ask my son to leave our house, for my own health and peace. I felt I was suffocating - I could physically feel it. I put a storage shed in the yard, and totally cleared out his living area bare. I think it surprised him. He understood the pain he was causing, but he was so drowning and lost, and did not do well. He floundered more out of the house. It took him going to jail for 6 months, and he is now in a structured program under the court's jurisdiction. I am cautious still about seeing the results down the road.

    You did not say if your son is looking for work. It does not sound like it. I will stay hopeful for you, but my gut feeling from experience with my own son prompts me to share the opinion that your son is not likely to get his life together unless he is ready to get alcohol abuse treatment and get a job, both needed to give him his self-respect. This can only happen when he is ready and wants it, and is willing to receive any support to take that action and stick with it. Sad to say, as we have all learned here, we cannot help, support, and fix anything ourselves for these adult children.

    It is a good sign that your son came back to serve his time. This shows he wants the connection back with you -- as Copa said ~ perhaps he wants and needs to see home / parents as the touchstone. It's hard for us as parents to find the best way to be that moral force and support.

    Stay strong. I am following along with you. You are not alone.
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I could never live with my difficult son. The thing is, like all difficult adult children, he can be nice and very funny. But he is controlling too and when he is angry, he is scary. I am trying to surround myself with positivity.

    I am different on the pot issue. I don't think it's worse than alcohol and that both can be abused. Nobody is allowed to smoke anything in my space. But I have one very functional adult kid who smokes recreationally. As long as it's not in my house and the person is functional, I don't care or need to know if my grown kids have pot in their system.

    Homelessness can light a fire those who can, but not those who truly cant. Not all people can self sustain. Neurologically challenged and the mentally ill often can not.

    I have learned not to cut off my nose to spite my face. I think in shades of gray. Fifty shades of gray haha (bad joke). If I had a disabled child who didn't work and smoked pot, I don't know that I'd send him or her out. I think I'd be more apt to help the adult find outside services because these services would be available even after I was no longer here.

    I have few moral stances where I can't see and respect the otherother side, except when it harms another such as murder, stealing, etc. We parents of adult kids who think outside the box need to decide whether to accept them or reject them. It is a personal decision.

    Everyone have a great day. Stay warm!!
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  19. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Thank you for all your comments. My son has shown he can survive on the streets but it doesn't help him. It will eventually get him to rehab but our experience is that is not enough.... going to rehab to get off the streets is not a commitment to recovery at least for my son. The one time we feel that rehab really helped and he seemed committed to recovery was when he himself realized his drinking had gotten out of control and he needed detox.

    So my hope at this point is first that he somehow pulls his life together, gets a job, and he is right and once things are going right he wont need to drink. Ok so I doubt that will happen... hopefully he will get a job and start getting his life together but I think drinking will remain a problem. The other hope I have is that he himself will realize how bad the drinking is getting and will ask us for help again. I think that is possible because he has gotten to that place before. The third option is that it will get really bad and unliveable for us and we will have to kick him out. We will do that if he starts stealing from us, gets really disrespectful and certainly if there's s any violence or threats of violence. Or if he is doing illegal stuff here.... At this point he is old enough to drink and pot just became legal here.

    At this point I don't have a moral stand on drinking or smoking pot. It is not a moral issue for me. I have no problem with people doing it who can do it moderately. The problem is my son can't but he has to figure that out.

    Right now it is a bit of a waiting game.
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  20. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet


    Hugs and prayers for you this Christmas season. I hope that you find peace this Christmas and that your son finds his way.

    I hope that for my son too and all the CD on here!