Vacation - can't get excited


Active Member
So about a year and a half ago, when my son was relatively stable, we planned a trip to Jamaica for this May. My newly divorced brother is going with us, we are renting a house in a secluded area. It's all my 17 year old daughter talks about. Everything is paid for and nonrefundable unless it's covered under travel insurance. This location was decided upon with input from my son, and he was very interested in going. We scheduled it around his school calendar, which is now a mute point.
Obviously, my son cannot go with us. We kicked him out almost 2 months ago but he does not have a stable environment. He shows up at our house often to wreak havoc or just to get something/drop something off, you can never till which. I am wracked with anxiety about where he will be staying, if he calls us frantic, or if something horrible happens to him. I'm also feeling very sad that he is giving this dream vacation up for this lifestyle he has chosen.
Normally, this is when I kick in to mid gear, start making sure we have all clothing necessary and start researching and planning excursions. I'm having a hard time getting excited about this even though I need it more than anything. I suppose it's a good thing this is a relaxing type of vacation, because we may have nothing to wear and nothing planned to do.
I know this is very much a 'first world problem', but if anyone else has been here or if there are any words of encouragement to help me get on that plane I'd very much appreciate it right now!


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

So sorry to hear of this situation for you. I can imagine how hard it must be because I know when my son is struggling (now) that it takes the joy out of everything I do.

I'm thinking about a forum I read some time ago where the author said that he and his wife took a vacation while his son was in his room shooting up heroin.

I remember that was shocking to read at first but then I realized that after many years of trying to help their son and doing everything they could, they just took some time away from it all for them. I don't remember the details of why he was living there etc. but sometimes I think of that man and his wife and now I understand.

You need to go with your husband and daughter and enjoy yourself. Give yourself some time each day to "worry" and the rest of it try to just be in the moment and think of yourself and the family you are with.

We didn't chose the life our children are living. We don't know why anyone would want to make things so difficult and not live a normal and happy life with the family that loves them. I'm speaking for myself here. It's just one of life's great mysteries to me. Do not feel guilty enjoying yourself. Your suffering does not help you or your son. Again, speaking to myself too.


Bluebell.... we know what they say about hindsight being 20/20....I already have regrets although my family is totally forgiving about all of the fun times we had where I was spending the time worrying about my son and the disastrous life he was creating and not spending the energy enjoying the time with the family that shows their appreciation of me and treats me with kindness and love. I am irritated with myself for paying attention to the troublesome loved one all the time and missing some enjoyable moments with others. I hope for yourself and family that you can find a way to throw yourself into the planning and enjoy the whole trip. I don't want my son to think he can control the mood of the family, it's enough to make me mad!

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
I remember many years ago, my son was in jail and hubby and I were over do for a vacation. We planned a trip to the Caribbean. I thought I was doing the right thing by telling our son of our plans instead he blasted me with "how selfish can you be to take a vacation while I rot in jail" His words really shook me up. I was like you, not getting excited about our trip. My wonderful husband explained to me that I had nothing to feel guilty about. We have worked hard all our lives, we have lived responsibly, paid our bills, etc...... we deserved this vacation. I understand yours is different in that when you planned this you thought your son would be going but he has made a choice to live a life that is void of being responsible. He made the choice to not go on this trip by his actions.

I remember another family trip when we went to visit my parents. My son and my niece wanted to go walk through the pecan groves. My mom and dad said it would be fine. My niece came back without my son saying that he was pulling up stakes and waving them around like swords. Not long after the Sherriff shows up with my son. On the way to the pecan groves there was a construction site for a new subdivision. My son started pulling out survey stakes and someone saw him and called the police. I remember thinking how nice it would be to take a vacation without my sons chaos and drama.

Your son is going to do what he's going to do with or without you being in town. He does not give one thought to you or how what he does affects you. You cannot and should not be there to pick up the pieces of his life. You deserve better.

Don't be too hard on yourself. Once you get there, sitting on the beach looking out at the sea, watching the waves, let those waves carry your worries out to sea. Get in the water and let it wash over you. Feel the warmth of the sun, let it soak deep into your soul, let it restore you.
More than anything, take some time to just relax and recharge.


Active Member
Thanks guys! We've had some interesting vacations too. The last time we traveled (not going to call it a vacation - we were going to my husband's family reunion - yuck) in August, my son took some of my muscle relaxants before he got on the plane. I don't know how many - it was an unauthorized withdrawal. But he couldn't stay awake and we had to drag him to the next gate on the connection. He ended up sleeping the whole first 2 days. So embarrassing. I think maybe he had been doing meth before we left. From conversations I've had with some of his friends this week, he cycles between benzos and meth, emphasis on benzos.Then on the way back we got stuck in the Detroit airport when Delta's computers shut down. We don't live anywhere near Detroit and were just routed there. It was horrible. my son wanted to take a tour of downtown Detroit, for what I don't know - and we were on standby on multiple flights and couldn't leave if we had been in Paradise. We were finally, after 2.5 days, boarding the plane to our hometown and my son looked at me and told me it was all my fault. I'm still scratching my head on that one. That trip was the landmark beginning of my son's current spiral. I really can't go thru that again or any other fresh he** he decides to serve up.
Anyone else with vacation stories to share?


Active Member
how selfish can you be to take a vacation while I rot in jail"

Isn't this quite an insight into their mental state? It sounds ridiculous but the fact that it shook you up points to the absurd level of manipulation that they are operating under. I'm putting your last two sentences to me in my notes on my phone. I need a focal point and those words about the sea and the waves are perfect. Thank you so very much!


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
Oh yes!

My husband and I had been to Mexico a few times and decided to take our Difficult Child for his high school graduation. He graduated by the skin of his teeth from an alternative school. He had been doing pretty good taking anxiety medications, not getting high etc. We thought it would do him some good and all of us good to be together.

He basically would not leave the room and drank beer (don't ask) and watched TV. It was an all inclusive so the fridge was stocked. We got him to go out one day and rented a jet ski and that was it. He ordered room service only and wouldn't eat with us any of the restaurants. His anxiety was at an all time high. Oh and he didn't have any of his medications with him either. They were all gone before we left - I found that out on the way to the airport. I was like WTH are you talking about.

Needless to say I was a nervous wreck most of the trip and we have not been back to that place since that time. Now it has bad memories for me!


Active Member
The beer comment gave me PTSD! We went to Paris in 2015 during my son's 'stable' period, and since he was drinking age and brought his own money, spent all of his time in cafes smoking cigarettes and drinking Mexican beer. Yes, I said in Paris - drinking Mexican beer!


Actually, oddly, we have been involved in several natural disasters on vacation, the last was Hurricane Sandy in Manhattan.

It wasn't until last year while our son was away at sober living that we took our other boys away for four days at a water park resort. Wow, what a difference it was without him! He was never a bad kid, but there was no anxiety, no sitting out because he didn't like this or that, it was FUN!

We never really told him, just said we went away with his bros, he couldn't really say anything. Go and experience true peace away. Nothing will change while your away, the sun will rise and set and you deserve along with your family more positive memories.

Peace, I'd go in a heartbeat!


Active Member
thinking back to our Christmas vacation in Florida. We were staying in an amazing resort on the ocean and my son went out into the ocean one day for about one hour and spent the rest of the time inside lying on the couch on the computer. He wouldn't go out to eat with us, shopping, to church, to Christmas brunch, nothing. He refused to speak to us, if only to snap at someone for turning on the lights, etc. Yet the rest of us went walking and biking everyday. We avoided the room at all costs. We spent most of Christmas day in the pool. I managed to relax as long as I was out of the room, as impossible as it sounds. We hadn't been on a vacation in a long time, and I made the most of it. But that is the story of my life. Pretending that these horrible horrible times aren't all that bad. It could be worse, blah blah blah. NO, it is nuts !!! I am taking my younger two daughters away on Spring break and leaving him home. I am not going to let him steal the time I do have with my daughters. Before I know it they will be grown too and I do not want to look back and be sad that i didn't enjoy our time. Its heartbreaking and he has anxiety but I can't go down with him. And he doesn't get a free pass to ruin things for the rest of us.

Bluebell , I hope when you get there you will slip into vacation bliss and enjoy your time with your daughter.


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet
It's amazing to me as mother's how we try to smooth over it and think it's not so bad when in reality, it IS SO VERY BAD!

It's exhausting to be the parent to these Difficult Child ren in every way imaginable!! We all deserve an Academy Award. We really do!


Active Member
Amazing our kids act so much alike but think they are so original! The last time we were at the beach for a long weekend, my son did the same thing - holed himself up in dark room. He tried to go out to eat with us once, but couldn't deal with the hour long wait - with a beeper that reached all along the beach. The horrors! The last day my daughter and I were standing at the water's edge, she was trying to get me to go in and swim with her, but it was too rough for me, I was burnt, wore out, ready to go home. We saw A running towards us with his bathing suit on and the biggest smile on his face. My daughter was so excited that he was finally coming to 'play', but then as he approached, he flung a fistful of wet sand in my daughter's ear and all across her sunburnt face. He was 19! Not 12! I'm so glad that was the last day. I have so many of these stories because I love to travel and that is my thing, he used to love it too. I hate it when Shutterfly sends me those 'this is where you were 10 years ago' photo emails...


Wow, it's all the same. We went on a great vacation with another family and rented a 7 bedroom house on a lake. My son was a young teenager like the other kids and he didn't leave his room bc he was too mature to hang with the other kids and the adults. He wasn't a problem child at this point or so I thought, but I was so embarrassed by his behavior. Now, this is the first summer he doesn't live with me and I have a cabin in the woods. I would only ever go there for one night at a time bc I didn't trust him in my house alone. Needless to say I am excited to spend many a nights in a row at my cabin.


Active Member
Wow i thought only my Difficult Child screwed up vacations. I wont take him after last one again. Unless he has 5yrs sober under his belt and acts decent. He was either high or withdrawing. Last vaca he went to hospital for withdrawal or to get pills for a high i will never know. And then stayed in hotel popping ativan. This trip was for him to be with his daughter. She lives in another state. I get super mad thinking about that trip. Hardly paid attention to her. I hate him for that
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pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
It was my late husband, Lloyd, who used to ruin vacations. He couldn't stand waiting to eat or traveling or staying in a hotel room. I believed that we should travel a little with the kids in order to expose them to new places, but it was a challenge.

One year I planned a trip to Luray Caverns. Lloyd couldn't handle being in the same hotel room with the kids. They were too noisy, I guess. We had a nice time viewing the caverns, but Lloyd threw a tantrum in the hotel room. We may have returned early. I can't quite remember.

There was another time when Lloyd took Ferb to the beach. I took Candy to visit a friend in North Carolina instead. Lloyd telephoned me in a panic about one day into the trip. He was staying with his extended family in a large beach house. The other family members had teenagers at the time, and they stayed up all night. Lloyd was furious with ME for not warning him that teenagers would be noisy. D'oh! Why did he think I didn't want to go? He ended up leaving the beach early to return home, because he "couldn't take it anymore." Ferb stayed at the beach house with his cousins and had a blast.

The last bad vacation was a trip that I planned well. We went to the beach at the same time as all his family, but I had rented a little condo away from the big, noisy beach house. Lloyd had his own bedroom to himself. The kids and I slept in the second bedroom. Lloyd spend the whole week cloistered alone in his dark room. The kids and I had fun during the day with everyone, and I was able to get them to sleep at a reasonable time in the evening.

bluebell, please go and enjoy your vacation. Don't let someone else's issues cloud your enjoyment.


Well-Known Member
if anyone else has been here
If you are talk about the lackluster feeling about life, my own life, that comes when I feel estranged with my son, I know this place. Or terrified about where and how he is.

And sure as day, when I see him...I find myself again. It is horrible to feel so tethered to the well-being and essence of a human being that ones own essence almost hangs in the balance. (Gee. No wonder detaching is so difficult for me....)


This is not a religious rant. But I have come to believe that each of us has a divinely given purpose. That I am required (I require it of myself) to dig down, to dig in, and to reach up and out) nourish myself and those around me...because it is here that the best I have to be, to give, to this life...resides. My son requires that I be that person. I require it. And you may, too. As I need you, too.

We will all die. Me. You. My son. Yours. And what we leave that endures will come from this place. And guess what? If we all contribute a little bit, maybe civilization itself endures. And if we don't? I don't even want to contemplate it.

Going to Jamaica for you is about this. (*Of all places, Jamaica, is this.) If you choose to deny yourself serve not one positive thing. Actually, it is self-indulgence. It is theater. And we would denounce it if our children came from this same place.

I do not mean to be overly dramatic, and certainly not judgmental; but I want you to go and enjoy yourself. I want you to have a whole lot of fun. For all of us.

Your worry will not serve your son. He is better served (a hundred times more) by your going. By your flourishing. With your example of how to live. He needs to know just exactly where his poor choices lead. (Away from Jamaica.)

I am sorry you are suffering. More of it will not help him.


Well-Known Member
Please go. Have a wonderful time. Enjoy this time with your daughter, your brother, and your husband. Who cares what you wear? It's not like you'll see any of those people in Jamaica again, right? Go for comfort. As for stuff to do? You'll find something, and if you don't, make sure your Kindle is full and there's a really comfy chair.

Most of all, try not to worry. He's going to do what he's going to do, whether you're in Jamaica or just down the street. Take care of you. You deserve it. Really. You do.


Active Member
Bluebell, please go on your vacation. Yes, you will have a heavy heart, yes you will feel a little empty without your son, yes, you will feel guilt, but you may come back refreshed and healthier after a little escape from your environment. You need it. Your son has made his choice, however painful it is for you, but he doesn't see it the way you do right now.