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As a refresher, my son graduated from a year-long sober living program this summer. It was so wonderful to have him back again! Family members who had long ago given up hope were at his ceremony, cheering him on and celebrating. For the first time in years, he was excited about his future. After doing so well at his job and in the program, his probation was terminated early and his felony charges were dropped. A few days after the early termination, he took me on a sunset hike. We had a long, honest (or so I thought) conversation about sobriety and the importance of staying plugged into his support system. I congratulated him once again on his success and told him how very proud and grateful we were.

The morning after our hike, a police officer showed up at the door to do a well-being check. Son’s car was found 2 counties over, submerged in a canal, with no sign of the driver. After getting the landlord to let us into his apartment, we realized that long before his relapse, son had been planning to “disappear” in the mountains and was apparently just biding his time until his charges were dropped. He was so drunk that night he never made it.

Two days later, we finally found out through a third party that son was OK, just partying. A few days after that, the money ran out and he returned to Sober Living. That is where my last update left off.

Since that time, son was kicked out of Sober Living. He checked into a motel and started using again. One day he called Hubs in a hallucinatory panic. Hubs raced to the hotel and pulled him out of a room full of users and drugs and took him back to Sober Living. The next week, son did the very same thing. Once again, Hubs rescued him. Sober Living would not take him back. Hubs convinced son to check into detox.

When son was released, he did not like any of the facilities offering him a bed. He spent the last of his money on a bus ticket to join a fellow rehab dropout in a business venture. Not surprisingly, his drug use quickly escalated. The “dream job” became unbearable and the “nice guy” turned out to be a jerk…BUT he had a “sober friend” and a “great opportunity” waiting for him – if we would just buy him a bus ticket! We’ve seen that movie before and refused to help. I stopped taking his calls, but Hubs was harassed mercilessly. There were nightly screaming matches between a heartbroken father and his very drunk son, willing to say whatever it took to get a $100 bus ticket to be with his next drugging buddy. Yet Hubs continued to take his calls...

One night, as I listened to Hubs’ end of another screaming match, I was sitting at my computer and could see that son was posting jokes on FB at the very moment he was calling his father the vilest names imaginable. Hubs hung up the phone and went to bed teary-eyed. As soon as he was asleep, I called son and let him have it (even though I know better than to argue with a drunk). I crossed some lines I never imagined crossing as a mother. I didn’t sleep at all that night, and the next morning I sent son a letter apologizing for the horrible things I said and letting him know I needed a break.

A couple of weeks later son found his own way to detox and another year-long sober living program. This one is very isolated; they are not allowed TV, internet, or phones and live and work on-site. Their only communication is via letters and personal visits, and it is too far for Hubs to visit. Fortunately, this has given us a chance to regroup. I decided to return to counseling to explore whether I want to estrange from son and hopefully come to a place of acceptance of Hubs’ and my differences in dealing with our child.

The first thing I have come to realize in counseling is that I have even less of a chance of changing Hubs than I do of changing son. As much as it pains me to see him hurting over son’s actions, it is not my place to tell Hubs how he ought to act or feel toward his child. Though it is difficult, I must learn to let Hubs be Hubs, and he must learn to let me be me, even if he thinks I ought to act or feel differently. We can each only do what we feel is right.

The second thing I realized is that labels don’t matter; feelings do. For some time now I’ve feared that my son has a cluster B personality disorder. Every time I’ve voiced my concerns to a counselor, they’ve basically blown me off, saying son’s only problem is that he is an alcoholic. This time, after reviewing the past 10-12 years, counselor asked ME if I had ever considered the possibility of a personality disorder, and while the pieces would certainly fit, son has never been formally diagnosed. Whether he has a PD or is just being an above-average jerk, the outcome is still the same: When he is around, we feel on edge and unhappy, and that has been the case for over a decade. I must accept that what I’ve been doing all these years isn’t working. It is an endless cycle of manipulation and chaos, followed by fury, followed by no contact, followed by a period of peace and calm, followed by my anger subsiding, followed by my “mommy genes” kicking back in and the cycle starting again. So for me, no contact is not sustainable in the long term.

Sadly, I’ve also come to realize that while I may care very much what kind of mother I am to my children, son doesn’t care AT ALL (except as it relates to how much I’m willing to do for him). My goal has shifted from what HE wants and how HE feels to what I want and how I feel. I have come to accept that no choice will EVER “feel right” when dealing with a difficult child – the best scenario is the path that is the least undesirable. I must choose, then walk it with faith and determination. I still love son, and (though it may not matter to him) I need to know that he has someone encouraging him. I’ve settled on what I call “generic mom-type noises” when interacting with son. There will be no financial or material support, I’m done offering advice, and I am not interested in soul-searching conversations. If he finds me bland, vapid, or useless, that’s OK! Maybe it will keep me off his radar. I’m not expecting anything from him at this point. Even if son decides to make some changes, he has a long way to go…but I also believe son can do whatever he decides to do. People decide to change every day; maybe one day son will decide to change too. Unless and until that happens, I just try to keep our interactions light-hearted and generalized and keep my boundaries firm.

Finally, I’ve started to contemplate how much I contribute to my own misery. My new motto is, “No hurt lasts for long without my help.” I am trying to take more responsibility for my own happiness and less responsibility for the happiness of others.


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No hurt lasts for long without my help.

How true these words are and how I wish I had learned this lesson long before I did. Your interactions with your son sound so much like mine were with my daughter until I had an epiphany similar to yours and decided to respond to her much the same as you do with your son. Interestingly our relationship improved greatly and I lost much of the anger I had over the past. I hope you find this to be true for yourself as well. It's so hard to watch them seemingly succeed only to relapse. It's soul crushing. And I hope your husband finds an easier path as well. Sending peace to you.


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

I so loved your post and so can relate to it.

We did a similar dance for many many years.

Our son has been home since November and was sober for some time (I think) but now he is drinking beer. He is doing it in moderation so we are okay with this. He also smokes weed but not in our home so not sure how often. He is adamant about only drinking at home since he is a driver at his job and won't drink and drive which I am thankful for.

I sometimes worry that he drinks too much beer but my husband (his dad) did too when I met him. However son gets up and goes to work every morning, is never late, and I have only seen him intoxicated once and after warnings that we won't tolerate that and if he does that, he has to live on his own, he hasn't done it again.

He is going on a job interview tomorrow for a moving company which pays $2 more per hour. He may just use it as leverage at his current job. He is going to get into the trades soon as soon as his background clears in late April. Not sure what trade etc. but he is progressive thinking which is a FIRST. I must admit, as the adult daughter of an alcoholic mother, I expect perfection from myself and everyone around me. That is impossible in this situation and I know it's not realistic.

Albie I do think they learn a lot of skills in the faith based programs that will live with them forever. I have leveled with my son about good and evil and that there truly is nothing in between. He does acknowledge this belief as well. Keep the faith, this will pull him through on his terms and when HE is ready.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
My new motto is, “No hurt lasts for long without my help.” I am trying to take more responsibility for my own happiness and less responsibility for the happiness of others.
Love this Albie, it’s a great reminder to us all as we travel this hard path. Thank you so much for sharing. Stay strong and keep working at your peace and joy. That cannot be dependent on the actions of others. That’s what I am working on, disentangling myself from reliance on an outcome that is out of my control. Can’t gauge our own lives on what others choose to do with theirs, even our beloveds!


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It's been awhile since I posted.

About a year ago, Son entered a very strict and isolated year-long rehab program. No phones, no TV, no reading except the Bible. He sent several letters to me asking for forgiveness and saying his only prayer was that he could reconcile with his family.

After a couple of months, Hubs and I drove several hours to see him. He was surprised and excited to see me and said he was thinking of leaving the program, but having me show up was a sign from God that he should stay and finish. I was very happy I went if it encouraged him to stay.

Five days later, he left the program with the clothes on his back, saying only that he wanted to go on a hike.

He eventually landed with a recovering addict and his family, who took him in, helped him get a job, and sold him a car on payments over 1 year.

After making the first payment, Son got fired for drinking on the job, took off in "his" car, passed out behind the wheel, and got a DUI several counties away. Fortunately, Son didn't hurt or kill anyone, but the kind man who was trying to help him had to drive up and pay the impound fees to get his car back. It was then that I decided to break off contact.

Son left his mess behind and went to Colorado with no money and no phone. Hubs continued to field Son's complaints (from friends's phones) about the shelter, the man who gave him a job, the hard work he had to do, etc. Eventually Son was kicked off the job for drinking. His boss told him he could have his job back if he went to detox.

Son went to detox but met a woman who gave him a place to stay, so Son abandoned his job. His calls to Hubs became more and more decompensated; he was obviously drinking very heavily and likely using meth as well. Over a period of a couple of weeks, the woman he was staying with began ramping up requests for money from Hubs, stating she didn't have the heart to throw Son out in the cold when he was still drinking but couldn't afford to house and feed him. (Hubs and I suspected she was the one supplying the alcohol and drugs, since Son had no money of his own.) Hubs refused. Meanwhile, Son was sending Hubs horrible texts about me burning in hell for my abandonment, saying all of his problems stemmed from my being such a "drama queen," etc.

Eventually, the woman he was staying with texted Hubs to say Son "didn't look good" and she was calling the police to take him to detox. A couple of days later, the hospital called. Son was barely breathing when the police showed up; he was intubated for 2 days. When he regained consciousness, he asked the nurse to contact Hubs.

How sad is it that neither Hubs nor myself had any urge to fly to CO to see Son?

Hubs jumped through all sorts of hoops to get Son placed in a rehab in CO before discharge. Son spent a week in the ICU, then a couple of days on the floor, then a 72-hour mental health hold, where he refused a psychiatric evaluation, refused his medications, and was discharged before Hubs could finalize the arrangements.

Son refused to go to the interim facility his social worker secured, instead returning to the same woman's house, where she agreed to let him stay for a few days until his bed at rehab was finalized.

The night before he was to go to the rehab Hubs had worked so hard to set up, Son called Hubs saying he did not want to go to THAT rehab, he wanted to go to the rehab he had tried before (and walked away from). He begged Hubs to fly him back to our home state.

Hubs was very upset, obviously, and told Son if he didn't go to the rehab in CO after so much effort, Hubs would cut off all contact and block his calls. Son said he hated to see that happen but really didn't want to go to rehab in CO. Hubs sent him a text wishing him well and shut off his phone.

Within 2 days, Hubs was again exchanging texts with Son regarding a ticket home.

I was furious.

Hubs and I had a screaming match about the toll Son is taking on both of our lives and our marriage. I told Hubs I cannot abide Son's chaos anymore and Hubs can't give it up, and I wasn't sure where that left us as a couple.

I don't know if it's right or wrong, guys. I just know I can't do it anymore. I won't do it anymore.

Hubs and I went to a counselor (again), and Hubs agreed that Son has taken a very, very heavy toll on all of us and really doesn't want our help; he just wants our financial support.

Hubs finally decided to send Son a text saying he hopes Son decides to make better choices...and until he has several years of better choices behind him, Hubs doesn't want to hear from him.

Son made a few more efforts to get Hubs to cover his plane fare. Hubs has continued to ignore his messages.

Eventually we heard from a third party that Son somehow managed to get back to our home state and back to the program he left, but at least Hubs and I are on the same page about contact.

I feel like I've aged 50 years in the space of a few months.


Well-Known Member

I don't even know what to say. I send sincere and heartfelt prayers to your entire family.

You have gone through so much. Wishing for you as much peace as you can gather. Try to take care of yourself.


Well-Known Member
I feel like you i just can't keep doing it. My son is in jail right now and i feel like although i would rather he be in treatment i don't have the power to make that happen. At least he has shelter and food. I applaud your strength and your unity with your husband. Take this time to enjoy things together.


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Oh Albatross. How very hard.

I believe that your son loves you and wants more than money. It's just that that part of him is eclipsed by all the rest.

I recognize that you can't react to his being in treatment. By his horribly dangerous and destructive choices over such a long time, he has gone somewhere in his life where he walks alone. But I'm grateful that he has taken this step. He didn't have to, but he did. I hope your husband recognizes that his strength to walk away could well have been key.

I'm glad you're back here. I hope you keep posting.


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

Ugh. I can feel your pain in the pit of my stomach. We have been there too. We are still not living the life I want to live. My son is not living the life I want him to live.

Really?? After all that we've been through??!! I am saying that to you. I am also saying that to me.

We have so much hope when they are in a faith based program. At least I did. I do believe that God is the only one that can fix them. I will believe that until my dying day. I know in my heart that it is true.

I feel that my son and your son KNOW what they need to do. When they are in this type of intense program they learn a lot. My son has been in so many programs and he knows the drill. If he chooses to go down the drug path again then that is truly a CHOICE. It is addiction but after being sober for some time, to me it is a true and clear CHOICE to use again.

I, like you, would not support this either. I would disown my son also until he makes better choices.

I cannot do it anymore and I won't do it anymore. I feel it is worse than death.

I fully support your decision. I am SO SORRY. The road to recovery is a jagged line.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Oh Albie, I am just reading this, handling chaos of my own for the past few months. I am so very, very sorry for all that had happened. I get the feeling like you aged 50 years, me too. Please take good care of yourself and know you have done everything in your power to help your son. I am glad Hubs came round. He must be going through a roller coaster of grief. Life can be so hard. God bless dear soul.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Husband and I always take turns being the bad guy. Or the worry wart, or the enabler. Or the understanding one. We reverse roles all the time.

It's why God gives us a spouse I think!


Well-Known Member
I guess I am your husband Albatross. I can't give up my son's chaos either.
I don’t know if it even IS giving up, Copa. In my darker moments I fear it’s far worse and a terrible price will be paid for forcing this. At other times I feel it is just accepting what is and protecting my husband from something slowly killing him. But I do think your son, though chaotic, has never targeted anyone. I fear my son has crossed that line.


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Staff member
Hi Albie. I am sorry you are still going through this with your son. It doesn't end until you end it. I am glad that your husband has come around and is on the same page.

I think the worst part of all of this is when they throw the blame on us. My daughter used to call me vile names and say I was the problem . . . not her. I used to get drawn into it until I finally learned that I didn't have to listen to it.

While it is true that addiction is a family disease and we all have to learn how to cope with the issue, it is not true that the family is to blame. No family is perfect but we certainly aren't the ones sticking needles into their arms. Part of true recovery (for both us and them) is accepting that no one else is to blame and no one else can keep them sober.

Stay strong.



Well-Known Member
Thank you so much for your replies.

Hubs and I talked a little bit about this last night. (He hasn't wanted to talk about it before now.)

I asked him if he was at peace with his decision. He said, "It was pretty crazy-making, wasn't it? If Daughter were battling cancer or in an accident (God forbid), I'd obviously do this and more for her, EVERYTHING for her, until I couldn't DO anymore...but with Son this is all self-imposed. I'm not killing myself for that. So I'm much happier. I didn't realize how bad it was."

He seems happier too, joking more and sleeping better.

Son has made a few overtures to contact us, once about getting a copy of his birth certificate (What IS it with these kids and birth certificates?!?) and twice through third parties; Hubs ignored Son's text and told third parties we are taking a good, long break and to tell Son not to contact us anymore.

To be honest, I am enjoying the quiet and hope it lasts.

New Leaf

Well-Known Member
Oh Albie, I am glad your hubs is beginning to understand. Taking a stance is hard, it feels like giving up, but what I feel is that it is truly giving in to the notion that there is anything we can do on our part to convince another to choose better for themselves, to take their own responsibility for their choices. It is always something, whether it be birth certificates, a chainsaw (Rain), or “I have to come live with you or I’ll just go back to where I was.”(Tornado’s plea on being released from jail).
If Hubs were alive I think he would still be trying to help Rain and I know how hard that is to be at a different place than your mate.
Sounds as if your hubs has reached a turning point. If the road gets rocky, I hope he is open to counseling. Sometimes having a third party help sort things through can make a great difference.
Best wishes and prayers to you both.


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Reading about the part where he is screaming at your husband while posting jokes on Facebook hit me with a spell of sadness.

My husband and I sometimes go in circles seeing eye-to-eye, and then not, and then flipping sides. I think it's par for the course. Just don't let it break you apart. Protect your marriage. I like what New Leaf said about counseling. Find someone to work with both of you... not just regarding your child, but regarding YOU TWO. My husband and I are doing that right now and I'm glad we are. No miracles, but it's helpful to have that input and support.


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Staff member
Your post was gut wrenching.
It tugged at my heart.
A lot of difficulties.

Our child is mentally ill. No drugs. There are differences, yet many similarities.

No..or should I say yes?
You simply don’t have control of another adult. And your husband must “deal” as he will.

My husband, in my case, often copes better than myself with the crazy roller coaster we often find ourselves living in. One thing he taught me is to greatly appreciate any good days. Don’t look forward, nor behind you.

“My new motto is, “No hurt lasts for long without my help.” I am trying to takemore responsibility for my own happiness and less responsibility for the happiness of others.”

Such wise words!

This speaks to the fact you only have control of yourself. Your thoughts, your actions, your reactions....

Your attitude will surely help you move forward much quicker. Life is good and even with these burdens in our path, we can still chose to let go of hurt, disruption and so forth and concentrate on the joy that is out there.