My difficult child left a few days ago and I am hardly functioning. The most I can do is barely pull myself together. My 17 year old easy child son and 14 yo easy child son have been withdrawn. They idolize their big brother and I don't want to demonize him in their eyes. At the same time, I worry that they will buy into his perspective of "how things went down." The air is so thick in my home you could cut it with a knife. My younger boys started school today and it was not the happy first day of school of times past. I had a special back to school meal planned for last night (difficult child wasn't supposed to leave until Fri) and I began to sob when I took out the 5 porkchops and 5 baking potatoes for our "new" family of 4, Ridiculous, I know. I'm a big believer in faking it until you make it -- but my kids know me too well.. PC14 has comforted me more than once and I know that's not healthy. And I hate that I am putting them through this again. When pc17 started HS, difficult child had just gotten an underage drinking citation and I was so preoccupied with getting him help that I didn't do anything special. Now pc14 started his first day of HS with his mother as a basket case. I also know that difficult child texted pc17 a few times last night. My sweet H ran interference and found out it was about the 2 bins of clothing that difficult child forgot. I have to chuckle about that - he is at school without any of his jeans or short sleeved shirts. (In all honesty, he could call and ring the doorbell and go get them. But they were smack in the middle of the hallway for 2 days and I put them in the guest room to get them out of the way) PC17 could have told me he was looking for them on behalf of difficult child and I would've said -"guest room, tell your brother he can come before 10pm to pick them up." I don't want my younger sons to be put in the middle. Yet, i don't see anyway to prevent it - especially in the internet/texting age. And I hate that PC17 didn't tell us about the texts, yet I don't want him to need to report on difficult child either. It's a catch-22. difficult child is smoking weed, acting selfishly, lying and likely dealing weed; he had a summer of drug abuse (on its way to addiction) in 2008, received counseling and promised to remain substance free with a B average in return for college expenses. He broke the deal. We did not ask him to leave in fact - we asked him to stay so he could get back on track. He left anyway. How do I explain that to my kids? They adore their older brother. I don't want them to hate me too. They don't want to talk about it, do I respect that? Does anyone have any tips? I sound like I am whining, sorry.