Update on my Homeless Son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Joyfullyme, Aug 15, 2015.

  1. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    I have been reading here and learning so, so much! It has validated my feelings, confirmed I am doing the right thing when doubts begin to overwhelm me - so thank you so much for being here and sharing your stories and advice! So many times I've wanted to chime in, but I don't feel like I am in a place where I can give any advice - yet. =)

    I shared my story about my son in another post a few weeks ago. Here is an update:

    He ended up homeless and I gave him lots of information and contacts in his area for food/shelter, etc. (He lives 3000 miles away with no family around him at all). I even found some residential rehab places that he could contact. He was waiting to go into a detox program within a few days. I had said I was cautious about the outcome, but not too hopeful.

    Well, he went into detox and it was supposed to be 7-10 days. He made it to day 5, then apparently he passed out while in the bathroom, hit his head and was taken to the ER. He said his heart stopped. He also said he had a seizure. I have not idea as he would not allow me to talk to any of the doctors or nurses caring for him. Maybe he did - maybe he didn't. In any case, he was discharged from the detox program.

    He said he left his tent outside the building and it was stolen, but then told me he let someone borrow his tent - but now it was gone. He also lost his cell phone (or rather, the sim card was stolen). All he had was his backpack with some clothes.

    I would call the hospital periodically to check on him. He promised to call me when he was discharged. I called and they told me he was discharged and just left. My greatest, most horrible fear had come to pass: he was out of contact with me. I would never know if something happened to him. For a few minutes I gave into that fear but I remembered that often times the worst things we think about never come to pass (I learned that on this forum!! Thank you!!)

    A few days later I got a very fast call from him, as he was borrowing a phone, to tell me he had got a new tent and he was sooooo sorry he had not called me to tell me he was discharged, but he had been too busy. But guess what?? He is detoxed! He is no longer in methadone withdrawl - so that is GOOD, right? Apparently, he had time before he was discharged to call another family member who sent him money for a new tent, though. He got what he needed - and it wasn't me he needed unless *I* could give him what he wanted.

    And there is always some statement made in the midst of drama that is almost like a hook to keep me there - the "I'm detoxed now!" statement was meant to be it. How many times have I grasped at SOMETHING - anything - as some kind of proof that things are better and that if I just keep "helping" him, he will eventually get to a place of healing and wholeness and stop sucking everyone dry of resources?

    This time it did not work.

    So, a few more days of silence go by because he has no cell phone. Let me explain here that in the past he has only called me and one other family member who regularly sends him money. He has always said it is because he can't remember my husband's phone number (mmmhmmmm...more like he knows who he can manipulate to give him what he wants).

    So, last night he calls me from someone's phone and says, "I can only talk a minute, I am using a stranger's phone and the bus is here and I have to give it back. I'm just calling to say things are very bad. Ok - I will try to call you later."

    A while later, another call to once again inform me very quickly that things are very bad and it is raining and he is soaked because his tent was slashed by the police and they had the audacity to tell him to get a job! Then he had to go again. (I have no idea if the whole tent thing is true or not - he has had 3 tents in 3 weeks - all of them stolen or destroyed. And no, I did not purchase a single one for him. Obviously, he is not learning from his mistakes...he has apparently gone back to the same place he was - a place full of "homeless junkies" instead of finding a new place to go to that is safer).

    The next time he called, I didn't even bother to answer. I've told him before to call me only when he is getting the help he needs to get and doing what he needs to do to change his life. My husband I went back to watching our movie and I just turned the phone off. To be honest, it wasn't even hard to do. I'm just DONE with all of this drama and crap.

    So, he called again and left a message: "Things are terrible. I NEED YOU TO GET ME A HOTEL ROOM. I know you have said you won't do it, but I have no choice. I can't be around these people now that I am detoxed! I am soaked and I'm trying not to freak out." That was it.

    THEN, he calls my husband's phone - the phone number that apparently he doesn't remember and since he has no sim card doesn't have anymore - and said the same thing, basically. (My husband did not hear the message until this morning).

    After the movie, my hubs and I went to bed. I had just a brief moment of "ohmygosh...he is alone, homeless in the rain and here I am snuggled safe under my covers!!" But it passed. I chose a life that gives me covers to snuggle under - he has chosen a life that leaves him on the street in the rain.

    The truth is ugly - but it is the truth. And I slept like a baby last night.

    I love my son. I want him to be well and healthy and live a life in which he is taking care of himself. He is 31 years old and it is TIME for him to be doing this. I accept whatever choices he makes, but I won't be RESPONSIBLE for them. If he wants to live homeless on the street - that is his choice and I accept it. But HE must find a way to support that lifestyle. If he wants to live in a hotel (sadly, we paid for a hotel for 9 months - I know...insane and so, so costly in so many ways! Everyday, though, he was on the brink of getting well and getting a job, etc, etc, etc.) then he needs to find work that will pay for the cost of night to night or weekly rates or whatever. If he wants a place of his own, then he needs to do what people do who have places of their own: get a job, be responsible, pay bills, etc.

    It is not OUR responsibility to support him. We've told him he can NOT come home (been there done that 5 or more times already). We told him before detox that we would not be sending anymore money or be able to help him out anymore. Instead I sent him names, addresses and phone numbers of the organizations in his area that can help him in every area he needs help in - if he chooses to do that. And I told him not to contact me until he was getting help.

    The silence from the constant phone calls has actually helped me to get clear on what I want in my own life. I am in school and trying to create a business for myself - I've given up everything for years trying to save him. I am simply DONE. I love him. I want good things for him. But he has to want them, too.

    Either he will make it - or he won't. I have absolutely NO control over the outcome. I finally GET THAT.

    Thank you for reading this far if you have - you all have been such a wonderful help to me as I read the stories and advice from everyone here. I would encourage others to keep reading and definitely read the article at the top of the forum on Detaching. Print it, read it over and over and over again. When you feel weak, get on this forum and read or reach out.
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  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Joy, you are doing fantastic. I applaud your courage and your focus. You are absolutely correct. Your son is a man and he will live as he wants, and pay for it as he chooses. He does not get the right to torture or abuse you, by manipulating your feelings of love and responsibility. Turning off the phone was the exact right thing to do.

    Your son may not recognize this (I am sure he does not, actually) but he needs you to be strong and to not betray yourself. He needs you to act from your values. He needs you to not compromise. He needs you to not be weakened by his pleas and his manipulation.

    By staying strong and separate you model to him what he needs to do for himself. With this he is reminded of who he is. The person you raised him to be. When you fold, it creates a moral mushiness that reinforces his own lack of purpose. Bravo to you.

    I hope you keep posting on other people's threads to. You will help us all. I am happy for you.
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  3. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    Thank you Copa! I feel SO empowered finally. My husband has always been so supportive and I know he aches for our son (his stepson), but he has had an easier time letting go than me. I have found him weeping sometimes, but only because he wants to much more for our son - but he also has a healthy view of it: that it is up to our son to do what needs to be done.

    My husband is my rock in all of this and always has been. We have had times when it has come between us, but when that happens we literally stop, get in the car, drive and reconnect and remember that WE - our relationship - is what matters as we are going to be the ones left when the kids are all living whatever lives they choose to live. We can't let ANYTHING or ANYONE come between us, no matter what. We make a great team - when I am weak, he is strong and vise versa. I am so very grateful for that! I tell him what I learn on this forum and he is very glad that I have found it.

    What we have found is that when we are a united front, we get less push-back from our son. It has been the times we have been divided - and our son KNEW it - that we have had trouble.

    When stuff hits the fan, he and I stop and breathe and remember that we are HE AND I - we can't let anyone or anything change that. =)
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  4. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Joy, I am so impressed by your progress in detaching. Well done!!

    The stories about the tent could have been written word for word by my son. Sometimes I swear there is a secret handbook our DCs useo_O

    I am so glad that you and your husband are finding the time to reconnect.

    You are doing great!!

    Thanks so much for sharing your update.

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  5. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    Tanya, I was just reading your signature - our son's seem to be from the same mold! His life of drugs and crime began at age 13; he is 31, an accomplished guitarist/singer (all self-taught), has an IQ of 136 and was also diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (I still to this day don't know exactly what that means). Thankfully he has no children (that we know of and even HE is grateful for this). His dad dropped out of his life when he was 4, as well. Interesting pattern.
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  6. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    What that means is essentially that the professionals recognize there is a problem, but they don't exactly know what it is either.

    Of course, that's not the official definition. But the diagnosis of ODD in our experience is useful only as a placeholder, signaling the need for further testing, analysis, and maybe time, to determine the root cause. There is no treatment for ODD.
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  7. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    Thanks, InsaneCdn. :)
  8. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    As sad as this is it's also where I find some comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this. Finding this forum was such a breath of fresh air for me. It's so good to be able to share with others who really know what it's like.

    I'll be honest, when the psychologist gave us the diagnosis of ODD it took everything I had to not look at him and say :wellduh:
  9. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    Well, he has been "finding a phone" to call me on daily. The number has been the same number on several occasions, so he is using someone's phone that he is with. However, he always tells me that he had to "find" a phone from a stranger to use. Sheesh. He must think I am such an idiot.

    2 days ago he called me in the evening and asked me for money because he had no food. I said no and reminded him about all the services around him and the places (that he actually told me about) that provide meals each day. He told me it was too hard to get to via bus, he has not Orca card since he is off the methadone, etc. I told him if he was hungry enough, he'd get there. He told me how his feet are blistered and his clothes are wet from the rain. I just made those "Mmmmm" noises.

    Then I got off the phone and cried. I just want him to STOP this.

    He called yesterday and didn't really say much - just let me know how awful his life is. I made all the appropriate noises and also asked how his stuff was going with social services/disability - there are some things he needs to do to move the process forward. He said he is too busy to work on it.

    Really??? Busy doing WHAT?

    When we were getting off the phone (we only talk for 2-3 minutes max) I told him to not stress out about calling me every day. He got puffed up about that, saying it was just "effing" nice to be able to talk to SOMEONE. I said, that is fine - if you can call me, that is fine. But if you can't, that is ok, too. Then I told him I loved him and hung up.

    What happened to me saying to him to not contact me unless he was doing something to change this situation??? Somehow I ALWAYS get sucked back into this crap.

    And, funnily enough, as he was talking to me, I heard the loooonnng sound of a zipper - sort of like a zipper on a tent opening - not a zipper on a backpack. But he told me his tent was destroyed. I don't believe anything he tells me anymore.

    I keep saying to myself, "either he will make it, or he won't". The horrible truth is, I just want him to leave me alone. There. I said it.
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  10. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    You are doing really well.

    It takes time for our DCs to start grasping that mommy is not going to take care of their every little need and want.

    When we give them money and continue to help them out their world is wonderful but when we stop they start to see the ugliness of the world around them. Unfortunately many of our DCs do not see this as a reflection of their own doing. For whatever reason they prefer to stay in the mode of being a victim.
    As their mothers, we are the ones who were always there to make their world okay and that's why they keep coming back to us and when we stop enabling them they become angry with us.

    You are very smart in listening to the background noises and being cautious of what he tells you.

    Of course he know where he can go to get a meal but it's much easier for him if he can manipulate you into giving in.

    Again, you are doing great. Stand firm and continue. Eventually he will start to grasp that you cannot be manipulated and his efforts will lessen. I wish I could tell you it will only last x number of days or weeks but it's different for everyone.

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  11. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    My son used to find phones to call me on, every day. This was after I finally cut off his phone after months of dragging my feet, wanting to have SOME connection to him. Once again, he was his amazingly resilient self---he found a way. He always seemed to find a way to do what was important to him.

    High fives to you for the "mmmm" noises. I used to write down on a piece of paper what my responses could be---when I was thinking clearly---because the minute he would get me on the phone a whole lot of confusion would set it, and I would forget a lot of the things I had decided.

    You are sucked into it because you love him. That is never bad, I don't think. The love continues, as we learn, but within boundaries of behavior. That's the difference, at least it was for me. I set boundaries about what, when, how I would response, how much I would listen to, what I would do, not do (and I changed them as circumstances changed)...but I love him and I wanted to maintain SOME KIND of relationship, even if it was just three-minute phone calls periodically.

    [/QUOTE] things he needs to do to move the process forward. He said he is too busy to work on it.

    Really??? Busy doing WHAT?[/QUOTE]

    I so remember this! Yes! What in the world? Joyfully, he will work on it when it becomes important to him. Until then, he'll be "too busy."

    This is an important step, and although it feels harsh, and I know it cost you to type it on this forum, and then to press Send, I think this is the land of 51% me and 49% them. We get SO SICK AND TIRED of the same stuff again and again and again and again. We are completely fed up with it and heartsick and body sick and mindsick of it all.

    That is when we start to change, and start setting boundaries like you are doing! It IS how we feel.

    And I think that is a healthy place to be.

    Hang in there. We so understand. We understand the see-saw you are on, and back and forth, and all the time wishing he would GET IT!

    You are getting out of the way so he has a chance to get it. Warm hugs and hang in there! We're here for you!
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  12. Carri

    Carri Active Member

    It's nearly 3am and I can't sleep. Woke from a bad dream about my son so grabbed my iPad and wow, such Great stuff...thanks for the middle of the night therapy! [emoji4]
  13. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Joy, I'm also impressed with your determination to change this pattern with your son. Great job.
    I went through much of the same with my adult daughter, who will be 43 at the end of this year.
    It's a process, but once I started stepping back and stepping back, as you are, things changed so much, and for the better too.
    If not talking to him daily works for you, then set up a weekly phone time, there's no reason he needs to call you every day other than to tell you how bad his life is and put you in a state of worry. My daughter used to call me daily too, it was tough. I finally asked her to stop that litany of negativity. It was too hard on me and served no purpose.
    You're clearly on your way out of this FOG with your son....and once all the clarity returns to your life, along with that joy and peace, it is much easier to stay detached and love them, but not be entrenched in their lives.
    Stay the course, you're doing great!
  14. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Everything I just quoted, I could have written at various times in the last year or two. My son acted like he has no one and nothing, that if he didn't talk to me he'd have no one at all to talk to. Apparently, I'm his only "friend" at times. He would call, but not ask for anything, just complain about his life. Every suggestion would be shot down. Every. Single. One.

    Now that he's away and with the girlfriend I don't hear much, for the last week or so, and not a word since we sent him the $500 that was his share of the settlement with his landlord who disposed of all his stuff. Granted, that was only 9 days ago...but 9 days is a long time.

    At his worst, I just wanted him to leave me alone. Don't feel bad. Why would you want anyone to call and whine about their lives to you without doing anything to fix it.

    We understand.
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  15. Joyfullyme

    Joyfullyme New Member

    Thanks, everyone! It has been 3 days since he called me last - I think the last comment to him about "not stressing to call me everyday" may have worked...or maybe his just trying to make me worry now. I don't know. We've talked every, single day for a year now (except the 5 days he was in detox). It feels good, but strange, to not hear from him.

    I think about him, hope he is doing positive things to change his situation and that the next time we speak, maybe it will be so he can share positive things he has been doing.

    I am trying to just stay focused on my school work and my life here with my husband. I still battle with that part of me that just wants SO MUCH for him to understand - that he has so much potential and so much to offer the world if he would just crawl out of the hole he is in. I also understand that none of that will be heard coming from me. It has to be heard from within himself and he has to want it for himself.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment and encourage me! =) Hugs, everyone!
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  16. Natsom

    Natsom Member

    I have had the exact same thought run through my head over the past few days.

    Thank you for sharing.

  17. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that the kids do need to hear, not so much about their potential, but about who they are: raised better than to do what they are doing. I think it shakes them up a little if the mom who was always so worried, who was always saving them from the choices they made, suddenly starts seeing them differently ~ seeing them as strong, competent adults and saying so. We don't want to teach our kids they need mom or dad to provide the basics every adult must provide for himself. That is how adults lose respect for themselves.

    We do not get to enable.

    Recovering Enabler posted to us: We know we are enabling when we resent the help we are giving.

    That was a good way to measure what we were doing, and why. It is harder to say no than it is to enable. In the end, enabling is the more destructive choice, both for you and for your son.


    It helped us to say those words "NO MONEY" when we thought about what we would need to see from the child before we would help. If you do that, if you make a list of the things you would need to see before you will help, what we realize is that if the kids were doing any of that, they would not need us.

    We can say:

    "You were raised better than to do what you're doing."

    "I expect you to behave like the man your father and I raised you to be."

    "You beat methadone. Good for you. You are strong and smart and I knew you would beat it. It must have been hard and I'm proud of you but I never doubted that you would. What are you doing now?"

    Blah, blah, blah, I need money.

    "NO MONEY. We have learned a new parenting theory. We are no longer enabling. Enabling is destructive. We know you are strong and bright and we know you will do the right thing and we are no longer enabling. You need to stand up."

    Blah, blah I need money.

    "No money. I love you. What are you going to do?"

    "I'm sorry that happened, honey. How are you thinking to handle it?"

    Blah blah I want money.

    "No. We don't enable. I have every faith in you. I know you will come through this with flying colors."

    Who else is going to tell them that?

    They hate that kind of talk.

    That's okay.

    Though we understand how hard it must be to kick an addiction, I think it helps the kids if we treat their recoveries as a matter of course.

    "You detoxed from methadone. Good job! I knew you could do it. I expected no less. You are very strong. You will take your life as far up as you have taken it where it is today. I believe in you. I know you will pull yourself out of this when you are ready to. I am proud of you."


    We have begun saying: It is better for you to take the reins of your life. You know what you are doing. I refuse to enable. Enabling is destructive. Every time I save you, I teach you you cannot save yourself. Every time you choose to use or to do some other self destructive thing, you choose the consequences that attend it. I love you. I want you to do well but I cannot live your life for you. Only you can live your life.

    Or, "We had hoped you would be done with this self-destructive stuff by now."

    Or: I love you too much to love you this way. I am your mother. You are breaking my heart. Stop it. Turn this around."

    I am happy you found the site.


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  18. LMW73

    LMW73 New Member

  19. LMW73

    LMW73 New Member

    I am so grateful for your post at a time when I am in exactly the same frame of mind as you . My son consistently choses to self destruct/play the victim and blame everyone else (mostly me) for his actions and behaviour. It has taken me a long time to realise that he doesn't want to change and until he really does, there is nothing else I can to support him. I, like you, have my weak moments, especially when I see all the photos around the house of the beautiful, happy little boy that I used to know. Accepting that he is no longer that boy took so long but finally I am there. I am now choosing to spend my energy on those that love me and also choosing to look after myself too. The days, night of endless worry, crying and sheer desperation have resulted in not one bit of difference to his attitude or behaviour. I will always love my son and hope that one day he will come back to me but learning to understand that his choices are his own as are mine has been a revelation.

    Thank you once again. I come to this forum often and knowing I am not alone is the biggest help. My love to you all :)
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  20. svengandhi

    svengandhi Well-Known Member

    The tent story makes me very suspicious. I would not be surprised if he still has his original tent and is scamming for money by saying it's lost. My sister conned my aunt for THREE allegedly stolen TV's before I found about it and intervened. I told my aunt to ask her why she had to leave it on front of an open window by the fire escape all the time and my aunt wasn't happy with the answer. Then my aunt said she'd order a TV and have it delivered to her and my sister began screaming at her that she had no right to question her about her stolen TV. 15 years later, I had the task of calling my sister and telling her that she was cut out of our aunt's will.

    My sister is in her 50's and is still the same but I don't communicate with her at all.