Update - when the phone rings

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Acacia, Dec 27, 2019.

  1. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    When my son's phone number rings, I freeze.

    He became incensed when I wouldn't use the $400 rent money I promised him for a Christmas gift for driving tickets. Verbal abuse, blaming, the c and b words, told me never to come back to his town or he would slit my tires, shaming, spitting on my car, and more.

    I blocked my cell number, but can't block home phone. It's been a month, and the phone rang. No message. I did not pick up and don't want to see or talk to him. My immediate thinking: he's sorry, he's desperate, he has no one, he needs help. Then: he wants money, he'll manipulate me, I'll cave.

    But, bravo. I refuse to answer. I will not allow myself to be treated horribly. If he want to make amends, he can write a letter. Any real change is a long, long way off. This is hard, but I am done. Sometimes I am afraid, but I am done. Sometimes I am heartbroken, but I am done.

    Change is possible for me. Change may or may not be possible for my son, but it is out of my hands, but until my son treats me with respect, I am done.
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  2. MissLulu

    MissLulu Member

    Stay strong, Acacia. You are on the right path. Sending you love and hugs.
  3. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Great job, Acacia!

    I had some blue moments on Christmas, of course, then realized I was missing an idealized version of family that hasn’t been true for many years.

    I am going to remember your mantra when I need to put things in perspective:

    “Sometimes I am afraid but I am done. Sometimes I am heartbroken but I am done.”
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  4. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    Good job.

    We always want to think the best of them. I know I did. But if there was a big change in your son he would let you know. There are ways beyond the phone and he would use them. I think it was smart not to answer. His last response to you was horrid. They don't just change overnight. He threatened you. For me that is a serious thing to do.

    Did any of us ever threaten to hurt our parents? Did we even threaten our worst enemies that way? Of course not

    I don't think they are as desperate as we think. I think they learn street life and sometimes prefer a life of homeless friends, street commaraderie, free eats, compassionate people who give, and most importantly no need to follow rules or have expectations for themselves.

    I heard second hand that Lee and Kay are excited to be in California in an old run down camper, parked on a street. Apparently they love their neighbors who are similar. Kay has decorated the small camper. Lee is looking to work at a pizza parlor but has no car for delivering pizza. Apparently she posted "This is true living in the non materialistic world."


    I will keep not answering her calls or texts if she feels inclined to contact us. Meanwhile Jaden is sometimes okay and sometimes a real challenge but he is getting help.

    What this child.luved through is sad and on Lee and Kay.

    I wish you the best and am sorry I strode off topic. You are doing great. You do not need abuse. God bless you.
  5. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Yes, it's important to remember that if and when he really changes, he will have ways to communicate that.

    It gives me strength to hear you can set this boundary also.

    I forgot to tell my youngest who is home from college not to answer the phone (he doesn't know his brother's #), so he picked up when I was out. DS told youngest he has the flu and for me to call him. Not much else said, except youngest told DS he heard about the conflict between my DS and me, and was not sure I would call. I am afraid of his anger, but I will not call. I am sorry he has the flu, but he's 34, and he won't get help from me after his verbal abuse.
  6. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    A 34 year old does not need Mom when he has the flu. If he really has the flu. They often lie to have us panic and give in, call, rush over etc. Money is often the end game. If we feel sorry for them, maybe we will give them something. Been there/ done that with Kay.

    They never call to share good news or to ask how WE are. The few times I was really sick when Kay called or came over and wanted to talk about herself, she said, "So? You're not dying. What a baby you are."

    Maybe your son would have more compassion. I hope so.

    It is no longer hard for me not to communicate with Kay or to even read her social media. Now she blocked me, but if I really needed to look, she has not blocked other relatives and I could look. I don't want to. What she did to my grandson is hideous and I don't even know what I'd say to her. I am done suffering at her hands. Right now, the way she is living and with how she treated Jaden I feel mostly as if I want to not hear her.

    This is a path we walk individually. There is no timetable and some parents can never detach. If I did not have a great husband and two other special grown kids and Jaden as evidence of Kay neglecting a child, I do not know that I could have detached. I count my blessings every day. I need to be healthy for my loved ones who are healthy too and value me.

    Blessings to all.
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  7. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Good for you, darlin'.
    I literally still have PTSD from my daughter's phone calls. I don't use my phone much. I hate it. The sound of a hallow voice just makes me feel weird. I have to work through that. It was too much for me at a certain time, I guess.

    I've been waaaay better with refusing to answer and putting my phone on Do Not Disturb. But if she gets through and has issues, I kind of freeze. So, good for you for not answering. It can trigger so many things.
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  8. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    "My immediate thinking: he's sorry, he's desperate, he has no one, he needs help."
    Acacia, you and I are currently pretty much in the same situation with our DS. This is exactly what runs through my mind when a text message comes into my husband's phone from him or the phone rings. Then I have to stop and remember how unlikely it is and how very likely it is he is just lashing out verbally. I think you absolutely did the right thing, and it gives me strength to do the same for myself. Stay strong, and I will too.

    "But, bravo. I refuse to answer. I will not allow myself to be treated horribly. If he want to make amends, he can write a letter. Any real change is a long, long way off. This is hard, but I am done. Sometimes I am afraid, but I am done. Sometimes I am heartbroken, but I am done. "

    Another mantra I can adopt for myself. You are right--if our Difficult Child wanted to change and made amends, they would move heaven and earth to do that.

    "Change is possible for me. Change may or may not be possible for my son, but it is out of my hands, but until my son treats me with respect, I am done."

    Yes. The book I am currently reading, "When Love Hurts" says that the only way to change the relationship is to change ourselves. When we change ourselves, it may not change the difficult person at all, but it automatically changes the relationship because it changes the way we respond to that person. We are not doing ourselves or our Difficult Child any favors when we allow them to hurt us; something else I have to constantly remind myself of.

    Chickpea, you said, "I literally still have PTSD from my daughter's phone calls." I've come to realize that I too have at least a minimal amount of this. It took a while to realize what was happening to me, but I can't allow that anymore. Trauma takes its toll on us physically, mentally, emotionally, and I realized I had to stop the cycle before it really began to do that even more. Just from a self-preservation aspect.

    BusynMember said, "We always want to think the best of them. I know I did. But if there was a big change in your son he would let you know. There are ways beyond the phone and he would use them. I think it was smart not to answer. His last response to you was horrid. They don't just change overnight. He threatened you. For me that is a serious thing to do."

    I think that's one of the things that woke me up. I realized one day that I had become desensitized a little bit to Josh's verbal attacks, enough to no longer be as shocked as I once was, and yet these things ARE very serious, very shocking, and a very horrendous thing to do to your parents. That's when I realized that I was experiencing the effects of trauma. Abuse victims begin to view that way of life as a normal part of life and just accept it. That was a wake up call to me.

    So Acacia, I applaud your strength. Keep protecting yourself and doing what is right, for you and for your DS. We tend to view them as they once were--the sweet, loving children we loved and nurtured, but that's not where they are right now, and it may never be.
  9. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    This is exactly where I am. Sometimes I am shaking, and I totally relate to the PTSD. I know now that I am the one I have to save.

    I personally see this site as a place for those of us who have come to a place where we want to stop the madness, enabling, and abuse because we know it is hurting us. We also know that allowing it to continue has not brought about the change we hope to see in our difficult children.

    Here, there is acknowledgement of our pain, compassion for our circumstances, and encouragement to heal and move forward. I am very grateful for all of these things.
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  10. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    This site has been my support network. Other than my husband, there has been only one couple we know who have a daughter who is Bipolar. I also have seen a therapist a few times which has been somewhat helpful but not as much as I would like. This site has provided insight, empathy, and encouragement, and I thank God for it.
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  11. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Good job Acacia!!
    So very proud of you.
  12. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Tanya, thanks. I was reading your bio and our sons and circumstances echo each other. I have gained strength from your posts.

    I am holding the boundaries, but the double whammy of having youngest failing in college and lying about it has sent me into a tailspin. I feel really despondent, not wanting to do anything, which is unlike me. Just sitting with the feelings.... It reminds me that I am powerless over anyone other than myself.

    I hope all on this site do something nourishing for New Year's.
  13. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    I posted originally about my son flipping out on me after Thanksgiving spitting on my car, swearing, calling me every name in the book, threatening to slit my tires if I came back to his town, and on and on. I felt shell shocked. All this because I told him that I would not use the $400 I promised him for Christmas to pay rent to pay car tickets instead.

    I have not spoken to him since and blocked him on my cell phone. He called my home phone three weeks ago and left a message, saying he had the flu and would I call? I did not.

    When I got home today, he had left a message, saying he had been very sick and in the hospital, and would I call him?

    It's almost midnight, and I don't have plans to call him, but here's the thing. If I knew my youngest son had been sick and in the hospital, I would be in my car right now on the way. My youngest has never raised his voice at me and always treats me respectfully, even when he disagrees.

    The thought of talking to my DS triggers my ptsd. I feel the anxiety physically, can't concentrate, and here I sit, not able to calm myself. My instincts as a mother are to reach out, but he has not apologized, and I don't trust him not to lash out again, or manipulate me, and I am sure he wants rescuing. He has alienated everyone in our family, and, I imagine he is homeless or on the verge in our very cold state of NH, which has poor services. See, I am catastrophizing.

    I don't want to call, but I don't want to be heartless. Do I text him that I love him, but tell him he must find his own way forward? Do I continue to not respond? Logic tells me this is the best course given his behavior towards me, but boy is this hard stuff.
  14. Overwhelmed 61

    Overwhelmed 61 Peace ☮️ and Love ♥️

    Acacia I am so sorry you are going through this. I wish I had the right words to say that would comfort you.
    Such a hard predicament to be in.

    Of course you would be there for your son that treats you well while having reservation about the one that treats you not so well.

    You have reservations for the right reason. Leave the other son out of the equation. Then maybe you can make your decision solely on your relationship with your older son.

    This may not help but I want you to know I'm thinking of you and sending a prayer and hugs.

    Peace and Love
  15. Across The Pond

    Across The Pond New Member

    This sounds really hard Acacia , to get the right balance for you. Take care.
  16. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Thank you Overwhelmed and Across for the kind thoughts. I couldn't get to sleep last night until 3:30 and woke up with a heavy heart. I know many of us have that experience.

    I still haven't decided what to do. To contact my son feels awful. To not contact him feels awful, but I know he hasn't changed, and I still am and may always be the bad guy. He's stuck at the developmental stage of when he began using, which was early adolescence.

    Hurting, trying to take my time....
  17. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    My daughter hasn't changed. I don't like how she lives. But I send her short messages with love on the holidays.

    You don't really know that your son is sick or in the hospital. They can lie for sympathy.

    Do what feels right then maybe just move on. Truly, my daughter would get more love from me if she were kinder. I am not willing to expose myself to abuse. Your son can handle having the flu without you holding his hand.

  18. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Acacia this is very tough stuff you are experiencing. I am so sorry.
    I don’t think you can compare your response to a loving son verses a belligerent abusive one. You are a loving concerned mother. In the case with your abusive son, the reality you face with interaction is different. There is no reciprocity, appreciation or respect. Manipulation and disrespect usually follow his reaching out to you. It is a pattern. Your response to block contact is a repercussion of his mistreatment of you. That is a healthy response for you and your son. You have set a boundary. That teaches him that his abuse is unacceptable. That’s a good thing Acacia. I have come to see these patterns in relationship with my two. I can’t control their ways, only my reaction to it. So, that is what I need to work on. My response, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.
    It’s that old fear, obligation and guilt working on you.
    What your son is experiencing are the consequences of mistreating those who love him.
    When I go into the emotions you describe, the catastrophic circular thinking, I know it is too much for my heart and mind to handle, so I pray. I give it to God. This helps to calm me. My two are very ill, and see me as their problem. I can’t absorb that negative energy. It is them refusing to look inward, denying their responsibility and putting it on me.
    This is tough stuff. Only you know what you can handle. If you don’t call it does not mean you are heartless. My mind and heart play tricks on me the same way. What no contact means is that we both have taken a stance for our own protection. It is okay to realize that contact with our ill adult children is damaging, and limit or stop contact altogether to regain strength. This does not mean we have grown cold and don’t care. It means that we have been through enough emotional upheaval and degradation to have to take necessary steps to ensure our own peace.
    I think what your’e battling is what your normal reaction would be in a healthy relationship with your well son, if he needed your help. Of course you would be there for him. When my eldest was in the hospital for her badly infected leg, I went to see her. Only because I felt strong enough to do so. It saddened me to see her in such a state. But I didn’t fall into the abyss. She ended up leaving the next day AMA and I didn’t see her for awhile. She is back with her abusive boyfriend. I go through my ups and downs, but am resolved that the choices she makes, makes it dangerous for me to contact her.
    I am sorry for your troubles Acacia. I have gone through those times where my stance has made me question myself. My eldest has appeared at home in the past, beaten up by her boyfriend. I offered to take her to a dv shelter, she refused. Then, she came the next day, high and chatting about nonsense. I have found that my two will reach out to me with their troubles, expecting me to jump into rescue mode. When I didn’t, I went through the same feelings you are, PTSD, anxiety over the what if’s. Each time, my daughters have managed to survive, in fact it becomes just another Tuesday for them. Meanwhile, I had put myself through another downward cycle battling the sadness and despair. Looking back, it feels designed to keep me in the rabbit hole, questioning myself and my stance to protect my heart. This way, it is difficult to stand up for myself. I think the addiction and mental illness our beloveds suffer would have us bound to our adult children. Flailing and struggling with each consequence they bring upon themselves, second guessing our good judgement to disentangle. Stay strong and do what helps you to see clearly. That is where your focus should be, on how much you can handle without going into the rabbit hole.
    I wish you peace of mind dear one. This is hard, but you deserve to live the best rest of your life. Your son has to find his way, and he has to know that it is unacceptable to mistreat you.
    Much love and strength.
  19. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Thank you. The clarity of that statement is really appreciated.

    I, too, turn things over, but I don't quite totally let go, which is probably not letting go at all. From 12 step wisdom, I made a God box and put slips of paper with the names of my two difficult children in the box. Ironically, even though I know I am powerless, 20 years later things are worse, not better in terms of my relationship with them. The silver lining for me, however, is that they have turned out to be my teachers in terms of learning to become a healthier, more thoughtful person myself.

    Leafy, your compassion, and generosity are gifts I truly appreciate. You know what it is to be in the trenches and to use the hard-won skills and wisdom you have gained to navigate your way and to protect yourself while still keeping your heart open.
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  20. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...


    My heart goes out to you. My oldest son, almost 31 has always been verbally abusive towards me when I don't give him what he wants. I have not spoken to him since August and continually turn him over to God. I thought time was healing him and making him realize that he can't treat me this way and expect me to help him financially. At the end of December he got a voicemail through because my block expired under my plan and I wasn't aware. It was the same ol' same ol'. Telling me he's got registration due in January, license renewal, car problems etc. All this in a yelling, demeaning manner and then wait for it...yup tells me he's sure I won't help him because I'm too much of a b*%*%. Really? Who does that? Who says that and thinks someone will still reach out to help them? I guess to answer that, he thinks I will, because I have in the past. So many times I cannot count. Only by the grace of God have I had the strength to not cave to his demands, no matter how mean, nasty or desperate he is.

    Even with all that my heart still hurts for his horrible situation but I try to not dwell on his misery. I have had to replace my focus of dwelling on him to thoughts of prayer and uplifting for him, my other son and myself.

    I've had a similar situation where my youngest son, living in his car was horribly sick. I wanted to make him better but I had to just express my verbal compassion for his sorry situation and suggest he go to the ER. There is no way I could have either of my sons come back to live with me.

    The stress that the thought of that causes me usually gets me back on the path to right thinking.

    I wish healing in your situation as I do for all.
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