Well, Darn It -- Old Patterns


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Well, darn it.... Some old patterns of interaction between difficult child and us parents have re-emerged. Darn it. As this is new territory (more functional difficult child), we were unsure how much boundaries could be shifted. Well, now we know (at least at this stage -- perhaps always, who knows).

OLD BOUNDARY --- See difficult child only for 2 hrs at a time (max), public place (unless sick), and much time in-between visits (1-2 wks or more).

TESTED BOUNDARY --- See difficult child for hours at a time (usually on errands), public place - AND - home, little time in-between visits (2-3 days). All of these were at difficult child's request. And, as we've never seen him clean before, we were unsure what it would mean. Testing the waters of a new ocean we were sailing.

ADJUSTED BOUNDARY --- 2 hrs at a time (max), mostly OUTSIDE our home (fine with him staying here during his massive dental work or when sick -- sick has never been a problem, he just sleeps), and.....still working on how many days/weeks in-between feels good for husband and me (discussing it last night).

Well, though this new ocean differs from the old one, it's still salt water. We haven't fought hugely, per se, but we all can feel tensions rising. As husband told me last night (in a neutral, factual way), "....He just carries a difficult vibe about him....he just does."

Honestly, though, I have discovered that I am just as prone to relapsing into old behavior patterns as difficult child is. husband is transitioning better than I am. It just suddenly hit me like a surprise semi. It began to feel very much like a PTSD kind of a response in me (fight or flight). Yuuuuuck! Given too much time together, when he amps, I tend to amp. I reiterate....... Yuuuuuuuuuck!

So, decided I will see a counselor to help me around specific coping strategies for this transitional time. Fortunately, our church has a GREAT counseling program (professional counselors) around addiction and mental health matters (first person and fallout). It's one of the things that first attracted me to this church when we moved here several years ago. I very much like their approach and tone. So.........gonna go get me some of that and nourish my needs!


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PS -- Boundaries matter. We shifted ours (as difficult child's situation shifted), and it shifted some things inside of us (me, moreso than husband). Returning to the bulk of our original boundaries as that's what worked best for us. difficult child does seem to recover faster than he did before (oh.....it was beyond heinous before....a plethora of police calls.....and that's what brought me the PTSD......the police calls). I'm thankful things are better (and they are.......still, not always easy....one day at a time).

However....mama still needs non-crazy time in-between....lest mama, herself, go batty (or start speaking in 3rd person). :)


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You really seem to have a great insight on your inner workings. That is great! Being able to detect things going south before they explode to your face and taking action to prevent that. Great job!

And drawing those boundaries on how much you can take also helps to keep your interaction with your son more pleasant to also him, not just you, so that too is a nice side benefit.


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SuZir -- Thanks, that's very kind of you. I think the same of you....perceptive, insightful.

Just made my counseling contact this morning. Wish I'd noted the need in me sooner (days ago), but today is still ahead of catastrophe. :)


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GM -- No, he's been out of rehab for just over 1 month. I know, time flies. As I'm still fairly new, I have a hard time remembering everyone's details, too. But I do remember everyone's heart and wisdom. :) Thanks for asking.


Active Member
Ok, that's what I thought, I got confused for a minute.

Sometimes to help diminish the tension rising, invite some good people over while you and difficult child are interacting. It can't always be you three all the time or you'll drive each other nuts even if he wasn't a difficult child. I found my daughter and I's relationship is always happiest when other people are around. We tend to be on our best behavior and keeps the time occupied. Even invite one of your elder members from church to help mediate any type of problems between you or heck, even just guide you all and difficult child. It's kind of like, one of them come over, and you all sit down and talk. I know these are far fetched ideas, but trying to come up with something unique and different.


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I"m totally with you on this. I am SHOCKED at how quickly my behavior back slides when I spend too much time (which is very little time) with difficult child. He doesn't even have to be at his worst...just a little irritation and I am all over him, in an ugly way, in a way that I never am with anyone else and in which I don't recognized myself. Its awful, and it happens so fast..(just to be clear, I'm talking about being accusatroy and verbally aggressive, not attacking and not flaming). I don't seem to be able to stop it. It makes me realize the deep deep well of badness I have in my from parenting this kid..who in many ways is just a gentle dumb soul.

So yes, I feel you. Good for you, VERY good for you for seeing it, naming it, addressing it. And sharing it!



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GM -- Yeah, totally agree with you on having others present when difficult child is around. I used to use them as a "shield" of sorts because difficult child would watch himself more. Not sure why, but difficult child and I have a curiously enmeshed relationship if I let it get that far -- and I don't want to let it get that far! We are close when things are good (closer than difficult child and husband are), but more volatile when things are bad (husband is just a calmer guy, in general.......and man oh man do I respect husband for his sage demeanor)

It's funny you should mention this, though, GM. husband and I were discussing Thanksgiving this year just last night. We have company (husband's sister and husband -- salt-of-the-earth people who are well aware of difficult child's difficulties). I told husband one thing I like about having others around when difficult child is.....is that it sort of "dilutes" difficult child. You know, he focuses on others more. I just sit back, detached. And I like that, as it helps me re-orient myself when needed. And difficult child rarely notices.

Echo --- Oh, yes......you and I are similar, then! I become more distrustful and accusatory, also. Yuuuuck! I don't do that with anyone else and I hardly recognize myself when I do it. Too much time for difficult child and me together = toxicity. It just does. FACT. Radical Acceptance (used that mantra many times yesterday). I'm not an attacker, flamer, etc, either. But I do feel myself on edge and am quite sure that shows up in my voice.

My gut is telling me that things are not the same as they were when difficult child got out of rehab. No, he hasn't been especially nasty. No, nothing is missing in our home. No, he doesn't seem particularly manipulative. However...... he suddenly seems more "hidden" and speaking less and less of AA meetings and his sponsor. That may mean nothing. Or it may mean nothing. But husband and I are aware of the shift.

I don't want to get too far ahead of myself (accusatory) when I could be wrong...........old habits can be persistent if invited back in. Still, it's tough because while I have developed some bad habits over the years (with difficult child), I have also honed my instincts. They're usually accurate in sensing that something is "up". However, I could be completely wrong about whatever that "something" is. I dunno.

Lastly, in the last 4-5 days I have had more reminders (from others) about their dislike for difficult child. This is difficult because it puts me in a hard place, given all of our relationships.

I always thought that if difficult child "cleaned up", that things would be easier. Wellllllllll...........not sure that's the case. In a sense it's easier (between difficult child and us), but in another sense it's harder as others in our life love us, but are going to great lengths to distance themselves from difficult child's return to our lives, while still trying to stay close to us. They don't want to see him, hear about him (even obliquely) or forgive him. He did a lot of damage to a lot of people for a lot of years.

Unexpectedly very complicated. Easier? Will have to get back with you on that one..... But I can tell you that these last 5 days of break from difficult child have been refreshing. And, if things do fall apart tomorrow, I will still be VERY grateful for whatever good days we have had. Those I cherish -- even amid the difficulty.

My focus now is on quality interaction with difficult child, by reducing quantity with him. It may not be necessary for him (though I suspect it is as he's stayed away for 5 days -- periodic texts, but that's all)......but it most definitely is necessary for me to maintain my health and happiness. We have texted him some of what I wrote here, but not all yet. Need to do that.

Thanks for your understanding and support!