Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Albatross, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I haven't been on here as much lately because I have been in the process of starting a new business and have been working some pretty grueling hours. When I last posted, Difficult Child had been kicked out of our house because he wouldn't work or stay sober. He impulsively jumped on his bike determined to ride to California and bounced around for awhile between CA, the East Coast, and Louisiana.

    During his travels we sold our house and moved to another town. After long deliberation we decided not to give our new address to Difficult Child.

    Difficult Child is now living about 45 minutes away and we have gone over to see him a couple of times. He is sharing a small apartment with 3 other people. He has a job, as do his roommates. They do have their share of parties, but he is holding down a job and paying his rent, so it's all good.

    He says he has been slowly paying down $ he owes for back tuition and has enrolled in 2 classes in the Fall. He's talked for years about going back to school, but this is the first time he has ever actually done anything to make it happen. When I asked him what made him decide to do it, he said he saw that his friends from high school are all graduating from college about now and he knows he doesn't want to live like he has anymore. I don't know how much of that is true, but in any event husband and I discussed offering to help him with college costs and decided not to do anything. If it's all BS we won't be out anything, and if he's telling the truth he will be able to own doing it by himself. For whatever reason, our "helping" seems to have had the opposite effect in the past, so let's not do anything to ($*! it up! But sometimes it makes me very sad, that we can't just help our child like a parent SHOULD be able to help.

    We have been very, VERY careful about our boundaries, and I wonder if that is healthy or if we are being cruel. I am interested in HIS life, but I really don't want him knowing much about MINE anymore. He doesn't know about the new business, doesn't know our address or home phone, doesn't know our vacation plans...and I don't WANT him to know. If he asks about us in conversation, we steer it right back to talking about HIM. Initially he tried to get more input from us, but now he just asks once and moves on. I am not sure if we are right or wrong, but we feel much more peace knowing that he can't show up drunk or violent on the doorstep. So for now I guess we will keep him at arm's length. It seems strange, like most everything here in the bizarre world of parenting a Difficult Child, but if it feels right that is what we will continue to do.
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  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Glad to hear so many things are going well for you.

    About helping him, while interfering in what he is doing may not be a wise move right now, you can always keep in mind, that if he continues in the right path couple years and gets his feet under him, maybe you can help him then. He will still be in process of launching his life and if he is steadily doing well then, your help may be greatly appreciated, and used wisely, in that point.

    I also understand well your need for keeping yourself safe, but it is still very good that he does ask about you. Have you considered maybe giving him some details about your life, not place where you live or work, if your are not comfortable with that, but for example a bit about extended family news, some activity you did, about your pets, tv show or movie you saw, something like that. Just to build a conversation pattern that is more give and take than just about him. You are building a new relationship with him and if he continues to do well, you likely will not be happy long term, if that relationship is just about him, so no need to get him used to that now.

    Good luck with new business too!
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  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Alb, I am glad to hear this, for you and for him.

    Isn't it such bitter irony that with Difficult Child kids, once we STOP, then they start doing better? Once we find the wherewithal to step way, way, way back, then they step forward. It is so weird and strange to keep telling ourselves, "no, don't DO THAT."

    But I think, clearly, for most Difficult Child kids, this is the best way forward---for them and for us.

    It takes tremendous self-discipline and self-control and learning new ways of behaving...creating those new neural pathways...and it continues to feel wrong. I think that is what you are experiencing now---it is working but it still feels wrong.

    I think following your own instincts here---not your feelings---is the way to go. He has taught you well. Listen to that.

    Like Suzir said, let a LOT of time go by and stand way, way back...and then see what might happen. It likely will be in fits and starts and not a straight line, so just let it be.

    Then...maybe one day...you can be more engaged with him.

    I am hoping the same with my Difficult Child. The other day, I bought an extra 8-pack of paper towels and a case of water. In my mind, it was for him. But after I got home and a few hours went by, I realized I didn't need to give it to him. It's a very small thing, but I can't go back there again. It's not good for him or for me.

    Bitter that we have to parse such over paper towels and a case of water. But we do.

    It is what it is. Thank goodness for each other---we all get it. Hang in there and thanks so much for the update. I am praying that he continues moving forward.
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  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Albatross, thanks for the update, it is good to hear that things have smoothed out.

    I agree that it all feels very strange to respond the way we learn we must in order to protect ourselves and not enable our troubled kids........it's strange but necessary and more often than not this is exactly what needs to happen for all of it to shift.

    For whatever reason the ties that keep us attached to them need to be broken, we need to let go so that they are free to go in to their own lives, it certainly is not the typical way of parenting, but as we see quite often around here, it is what works.

    You've also begun a new chapter in your own life, a new business and a move to a new town. Congratulations Albatross, it all sounds very positive and healthy.
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  5. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Albatross, you are SOOO doing the right thing. I want to stand behind you and help hold you up, because I know how hard it is, and I know in my bones that it is right, and not cruel. I thought about your post for 24 hours before responding, because I couldn't think how to support that statement...and then I thought...if we had a child in perfect health, we would logically make them birthday cake and buy them the occasional (or frequent) ice cream cone. If we had another child with diabetes...WE CAN:T MAKE THEM CAKE OR BUY THEM ICE CREAM. It isn't because we don't want to, or because we dont' love them...we HAVE TO WITHHOLD THAT STUFF FOR THEIR HEALTH AND LIFE. It isn't a perfect analogy, but it helped me a bit. Because little gifts are so tempting...and they open the door to badness. You are being brave and good, a fine parent. Keep doing it!

    Such a simple thing, and such a big step, COM! exemplifies the progress you have made. And now you have paper towels!

    It is true. It is a hard hard path, and one that observers can't understand...but it is our path.

    You have a relationship with your son now. He is doing better. You are healthier and better. HOld that thought in your mind now...water those seeds. You are doing great.


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  6. tishthedish

    tishthedish Active Member

    Albatross, all I can say is "well done friend". You are making all the right moves. And as for feeling like you might want to do more? That's may be only because we are used to doing so much that doing nothing feels foreign. But foreign is worth it. You, your D H and your son all all experiencing new things thanks to your resolve and your restraint. Hugs and smiles to you for your progress and the discretion to keep your life and recovery protected.
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  7. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Thank you, ladies. You have helped me make sense out of this craziness. I have been going round and round, and I was a real mess after we had lunch this weekend. "Am I being vindictive? Am I being selfish? Why shouldn't we help him with tuition--going back to school is a GOOD thing..." etc. I was at one point in tears on the way home, despite having a nice lunch and seeing Difficult Child with light in his eyes and his hopes high.

    That is a good point, SuZir. And at that point it would be too late to rebel and reject!

    Thanks COM. Yes, bitter! The normal give and take (or just give) that makes parenting so much fun is something we must constantly analyze before we engage, and that just really sucks sometimes. We WANT them to fly, and we WANT to be able to just show them a little parent love now and again...but we can't show or they won't fly. For whatever reason, the two don't go together for our DCs. It is like walking through a minefield. Best not to even set foot on it. But isn't it sad and exhausting sometimes?

    Thanks RE. This is what left me in such a wreck after lunch. When I cut all of the ties that I thought were loving, what is left? It makes no sense, but it is what is best for him, and for us. When I cut all ties, all that is left is love.

    Thanks Echo. That is exactly what husband said when I was crying on the way home..."I don't understand why, but the best way to help Difficult Child is to NOT help Difficult Child. We know that. We've seen it too many times."
    Thanks Tish. I did not think of it as protection, but that is the word for it. Not vindictiveness, or cruelty, or selfishness, or any of those other horribles I have been ruminating about. I think we have all earned the right to protect ourselves. Very sad, but oddly enough the right thing to do, for us and for them.
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  8. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I understand this. Jabber and I have mentioned that we want to move. This house holds memories of good times with our son...but they are overshadowed by the ones of him screaming and shouting and putting his fist through the door and finding him stoned and on and on. Realistically, if we didn't want a smaller house (we just don't need four bedrooms, living room, family room, for the two of us) and more land so the neighbors are not on top of us, we probably wouldn't move for just that reason, but we've discussed as another reason that, if we're 30 minutes from town, he won't want to live with us or call asking for rides, etc. It's not a real "reason" for wanting to move...but it's a nice perk. The new house will be a place where his drama is not allowed.

    So yes, protection. Distance is good. Keeping him from knowing where the house is, that keeps the distance. It sounds like he's making progress. Maybe someday things will progress to where you CAN loosen up those boundries. It's something to look forward to.
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  9. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Albatross,
    Just getting caught up on everything, I've been out of town for a few days.
    I so get where you are coming from as I too share the same feelings. I don't think it's cruel to with hold information, it's survival.
    I learned the hard way that sharing too much information with my Difficult Child could backfire as he would use it against me.
    I do hope in time that I might be able to share a little more with him but for that to happen my level of trust will have to move up a few notches.
    I had not heard from Difficult Child since March, then Wed night, the night before husband and I left for an extra long weekend getaway, he sends me a private message on FB. He and his dog are traveling across country and they are stuck in New Mexico.
    All I could do was to wish him well and tell him that husband and I love him. I know better than to tell him that husband and I were about to hop on plane for a few days at the beach. I've been down this road with him before and when I shared with him that husband and I were going on vacation he flew into a rage, slamming us for going off to have fun while he was stuck in jail.
    I also switched jobs about 5 years ago and I have not shared that with him.
    To be quite honest, if I were to move, I doubt that we would disclose our new address to him.
    Like I said, I do hope someday I will be able to share a little more with him but for now, the trust just is not there.

    I think it's wonderful that your Difficult Child is at least working and putting forth some effort, that is a really good thing.

    As we all have learned the hard way, only time will truly tell if our Difficult Child are turning their lives around. We can only take it day by day.
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  10. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    For now, for this time, this is best. You have read our stories, Albatross. While the kids are addicted or addled in some other way, they view us as the enemy. Until they have recovered, it is best for us to be separate from them. When they have only themselves to work against, they have only themselves to blame. In the long run, this is more helpful to them. They can see sooner why they are in their situations when we are not involved enough for them to attribute the bad things to the quality of our helping. That it wasn't enough, that the car wasn't a new one, that we did not buy that duplex.

    I think you and your D H are doing the right thing.

    That is the harder choice. Our dreams for our kids are on the line here too, when we do not allow ourselves to do the very things we dreamed we would make happen for our kids. Here again, I believe you and D H are correct.

    Here again, Albatross, in reading our stories, those of us who have helped again and again have created monstrous children in the way they have learned that if the story is bad enough, we will help. Or if we are hurt beyond the point that we can remember how to be strong enough to keep saying no, that we will buckle. That theme is a common one, for those of us who have helped too much.

    It sounds like your son is experiencing some of the consequences of having made the choices he has: His friends are further along their life paths. That is a good consequence. That will be a good motivator for him now, while he is still young and before self-destructive paths are set in stone.

    I am thinking about Leonard Cohen's "Halleluiah". All the ways we learn what love is, and that it is so different a thing than we knew.

    This is a good point.

    I am going to remember this.

    It was very nice to hear from you, Albatross. Sincere congrats on your new business; wishing you and D H every success.


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  11. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    It all sounds really positive Alb.

    Keep us posted about the new business. I'm glad you decided to take the leap and work for yourself after all your anxiety about your previous job coming to an end. I've never regretted leaving employment and becoming self-employed. I'll look forward to your updates.

    I know what you mean about being unable to help financially, even though it would seem to be the normal thing to do for any parent. My troubled son kept asking for money for a new passport (he destroyed his last one because he said it was yet another way of the government controlling him :frown:), but now he wants to travel to stay with some activist groups in Europe. I've consistently refused to pay for a new passport and now, surprise surprise, he is, as I type, working hard in our garden clearing an area of overgrown woodland and brambles that's needed attacking for a while, and earning the money for a new passport.

    It's a miracle!

    I'm sure your son will value anything that he pays for himself far more than anything you pay for.
    Stick at it Alb! You're doing great. :)

    Lucy x
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  12. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Lucy! Good to hear from you!

    That's living the dream right there! Nice job, Lucy!
  13. Ironbutterfly

    Ironbutterfly If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree

    I think you are doing the right thing by keeping your life separate and not sharing. In contact but not full-blown contact. He has to earn your trust back. By not helping him- he is finding his way. Perhaps if he completes first or 2nd year of school you could give him dollars financial as a surprise great job thing. Just a thought.