Where do I begin?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by JKF, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Hello friends. It's been a while. I hope you're all doing well. I've been reading here and there but haven't had much time to post. I don't even know where to begin. As some of you know, difficult child went to Idaho in September to live in an apartment in the building my dad owns. The plan was for difficult child to live rent free in the apartment in return for doing building upkeep and maintenance. He was ok for maybe a week and then things went downhill. He is lazy. He's a slob. He's destructive, defiant, and rude. He doesn't want to do anything except sit on his butt, stuff his face, sleep, and play around on his phone. My dad has been tolerating it and trying to work with him but after yesterday he's done.

    Yesterday my dad got a call from one of the other tenants in the building. This woman and her family have been so kind to difficult child from day 1. She would cook dinner for him and let him use her computer and internet. She would drive him places, take him food shopping, etc. Well it turns out that difficult child got their bank account information off of their computer and did 3 electronic deposits from their account into his. He also helped them set up the e-check for their tax return and they have yet to see that. I have a feeling he had that routed into his account as well. My father said now everything is falling into place and things are making sense because my dad had some of his bank documents up there at the building and his bank has called him 3 times in the last 5 months asking if he was trying to do some kind of transfer. He's had to get 3 new debit cards since difficult child has been there it's pretty obvious that difficult child has his information too and has been using it for his illegal activities.

    I am absolutely sick over this. Is it a surprise? No. Not at all. But I was really hoping he would have taken this opportunity and used it to his advantage. He had a chance at a brand new start with minimal requirements on his part. However, instead, he's once again used, taken advantage of and stolen from the people who were trying to help him.

    I've basically come to the conclusion that my son's a sociopath. It has been hinted at by professionals in the past but this confirms it. He has no regard for others, feels like he's entitled to anything he wants, lies, steals, cons, and cheats anyone and everyone who has ever tried to help him. He's a master manipulator and he makes people feel sorry for him and then robs them blind. And he's not even 20 yet.

    Anyway - tomorrow my dad is taking him to the homeless shelter in the next city. He's burned yet another bridge and this time I'm not going to try to help him find a new one. I've done all I can do for him. Do I love him? Yes - he's my son and I love him more than anything and always will but I can't and won't condone his actions. I'm done. I'm getting myself prepared for the endless phone calls, emails, messages, etc. The threats that he's going to kill himself. The rage. The blame. All of it. I'm prepared for it and I'm not going to let it affect me. We've been down this road how many times now? Too many to count at this point and it ends now. It's up to him now. No more help from us. No more enabling. No more. I'm done.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I'm so very sorry JKF,I know how disappointing it all is. You are doing the right thing in being done now. That is the end game for you and now he is on his own. I understand that completely.

    I've thought of you often and wondered how it all was going. Do something kind and nurturing for yourself today............

    Sending you hugs JKF and prayers for you, for your difficult child, for me and for my difficult child.........for all of us here and for all of our difficult child's................
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  3. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    welcome back..I don't know you from before, but it sounds like we can be friends..
    I feel for you...it is terrible when our difficult child's hurt the kind and helpful people who try to help them...it is one of those wounds that are just too big to heal, sometimes. And it sounds like you also have a lot of disappointment, of hoping that this would be a fresh start...and it wasn't.

    I'm sure you feel sorry for your dad, too, who is in the thick of it...dropping him off won't be fun.

    You might read some of the posts of Child of Mine and Seeking Strength, who have had to step away from helping their sons in an acute ways. You might want to make an actual planto deal with the barrage that you are probably right is coming. If you are prepared with responses, even pre-written ones, it might help you to be proactive rather than reactive...and it might help keep you from being manipulated, or becoming undone by your own stress and hurt.

    I am sure you are right that stepping in now won't help him. HOnestly I hope the neighbors or your dad press charges...what he has done is criminal, and he should deal with the consequences of that sooner rather than later. But that is me, and really it is for them to decide that, not you...you can stay out of that decision process as his mom, and you can let yourself do that.

    Bless you and keep you. I'm glad you turned here...there isn't a better place to help you get through this stuff.

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  4. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    I've been wondering about how things are going with you, JKF. I am so sorry to hear about this latest development. You know what you need to do (natural consequences), and it's very, very hard. I'm praying for you and your family.
  5. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    Hi JKF, and welcome back.

    I remember when your son was going to make a fresh start with his grandfather, and I'd hoped things would turn out differently.

    He has to experience the consequences of his choices. Is there any legal action your father and/or his neighbor could take regarding bank fraud? It's just incredible how kind people are punished for encouraging someone they determine could use a helping hand. I'm so sorry, JKF.
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  6. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    My father just told me the sheriff's department is on their way to question him now. I'm sure he's going to jail. How could they not arrest him? He had the funds deposited into HIS account! Even though he deserves these consequences it still hurts my heart and I know my father is devastated as well. I will post more later when I get in my computer. I hate posting from this phone.

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  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I'm really sorry for your acute disappointment that I know you feel and your hurting mommy heart. We keep on wishing that they take advantage of the opportunities that they get and often they get more than most adult children. This, however, will not be forgiven as he harmed another family, not his own, and this is when often our adult children who lack morals finally end up in jail/prison. I agree with you that your son is acting as if he has antisocial traits. If this is not drug driven, then I would consider him too dangerous to ever live with you again and probably unlikely to change. I have had to face that 36 has traits too, although they are not the type to get him in jail. They still hurt. I am still baffled at how a person I raised with so much love can often lack empathy.

    This is my advice about the e-mails, phonecalls, letters, anything...and it comes from experience. I do not know if it is the right answer for you, but I will offer it up anyway and you can disregard it.

    I would not even open a letter, read an e-mail, or give anything he has to say a hearing. You know in advance that it will be laced with abuse as if YOU had stolen, not him, and he will further probably wound your poor hurt heart by telling you that this happened and he is this way because of YOU. This is their mo. They do this to make YOU feel guilty when THEY do horrible things. God forbid they should ever take responsibility and feel bad about it. If he does, I'd consider that a small sign of hope. Usually it doesn't happen. It is more like "Well, I wasn't getting any money so I had to get it from somewhere, blah, blah, blah" as if getting a job is not an option for them.

    You can also deal with this with radical acceptance. Yes, this happened. Yes, you are disappointed. Yes, it hurts you. But it is what it is. It happened. You accept it. You go on with your own life (obviously it isn't quit THAT simple with such a wounded heart, but you try acceptance. "My son did this. He is being punished. This is the person he is right now and I can't change that, but I can still have a good life myself with those who love me and who are making good life choices. I've done everything I can do for my son and I accept that now it it 100% up to him."

    Hugs and hope for serenity and peace soon. This is a blow, but you WILL recover. I like the saying "This too shall pass."
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  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Hi JKF, wow. I am so sorry for what is happening right now with your family. It sounds like what many have gone through, giving someone we love a fresh start and another chance. And then he blew it completely.

    I am sure you have felt the whole range of feelings but it sounds like you are now thinking clearly about where YOU are and what YOUR role is today. You sound done. And I know that behind that "done" is a lot of history and pain.

    If this is your son's first experience with law enforcement, you will be faced with multiple decisions in the days and weeks ahead. Hire a lawyer? Visit him in jail? Go to court? Put money on his account? Take phone calls from jail? If you can, stick to your plan today. It is hard over time, to remain consistent, when we feel they have very few choices and no help. If you believe he has to deal with this himself, and that is the only path to a possible turnaround for him, work hard to stay the course.

    I don't know about you but I can get confused as a lot of information comes at me. I don't apologize for that, because I am doing the very best I can in a nearly impossible situation, watching someone I love self-destruct.

    One thing that helps clear away the confusion, the "FOG" as others describe it, is to write down my plan. I can always change it, but it helps to get it on paper, sleep on it, get input from others, and then print it out and keep it handy in my purse, on my bathroom mirror, etc. It sounds remedial, and the first time I told someone about my process, I was embarrassed. But today, I believe writing it all down, and pulling it out and using it as necessary, has saved me from doing things and taking action and saying things that I don't want to do and I don't want to say.

    My son, who is 24.5, has been arrested multiple times and has been in jail multiple times, once for as long as 7 months. Today, he is one arrest away from serving a prison sentence of four years. All of his charges are drug-related.

    Like you said, you love your son very much. I love my son very much as well. I am working hard to let him go, to practice detachment with love and compassion, and to stop, wait, and let time take time. Writing a plan down helps with all of that.

    Lately I have been feeling detachment with mad (lol) but today I am working to let that go and move to another place with my feelings and my actions.

    I also learned to let phone calls go to voice mail. I remember the first time I heard that idea in a meeting, it was like a thunderbolt. I never considered being able to do that with one of my children. That is a great tool to buy some time and get prepared, even if you decide to take another call later.

    I also give myself guidelines, like, don't answer any emails, texts, FB message or phone calls for at least 24 hours, or 48 hours, whatever the situation calls for. Sometimes I change my mind, and that's okay, too JKF. You have the right to change your mind at any time about anything.

    It helps to have some "tools" and decisions made in the thick of a crisis.

    And your feelings count so much, JKF. You sound "steeled for the duration" in your post, and also I can hear your tender, hurting heart for your son.

    You have a right to all of your feelings, whatever they are. We are mothers, and some say that the mother/son bond is the hardest to reconcile in these awful situations.

    Please come back here, as we are all here for you, to walk with you through this pain and through whatever happens next. Please take what you like and leave the rest from anything I have written. Just some thoughts for the journey.

    Prayers and peace and good thoughts going out for you and for your whole family today.
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  9. blackgnat

    blackgnat Active Member

    Just sending some support through the airwaves. I know only too well that sense of monumental disappointment when you send your difficult child off to a New Start and have so much hope, only to have them eff it all up. Sometimes spectacularly. And you know you're in for a hard, hard time, on all levels.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you-I think my son is a sociopath too and it's not a pleasant feeling to acknowledge but on a weird level, for me, anyway, it's almost a RELIEF to put a label on the craptastic and destructive behaviours. At least I can read up on it and then kind of know what could be coming down the pike and the reasoning behind it.

    Cold comfort, I know.

    Strength and courage to you-you sound resolute in your attitude to screen out the BS. Though I know how painful it ALL is, as all of us who post here do!

  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    For those who are interested, here are the traits of antisocial personality disorder. The first time I read them, I felt physically sick/nausea overtook me. I sat in the bathroom and cried my eyes out. It's not that 36 had every trait. He didn't. But he had enough that I knew he was partly something I could barely comprehend or accept...he had traits of people who had antisocial personality disorder. It still makes me sick, but I'm used to it now and when he says or does something so lacking in empathy that it blows my mind, I just go back to this: "He has antisocial personality traits and I can't change him." This is why, although I love him with all my heart, I don't really LIKE him very much. Does that make sense? I think some of you understand. I was late to accepting what he was like...he had to have been thirty before I could even sort of admit it to myself. My journey has been a long one.

    This is an article listing what antisocial personality is and it's traits. If your heart is not ready to read this, please do not put yourself through it. If you are ready...see if it fits. I saw these traits as far back as toddlerhood with 36. It appalled me then, but I threw him into therapy and swore it would get better because I'd MAKE it get better. Didn't work. Ok, if you read, please stop if you are getting too upset.

  11. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    Thoughts and prayers for you and family JKF.
    I am so sorry to read this.

  12. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry you are going thru this. To have your son target your father is doubling your pain. My difficult child has also taken advantage of every member of his family who has tried to help him. It's really hard to comprehend why he would do the things he has done to people who have only wanted the best for him, but for whatever reason there is a fundamental connection with other people that is just not there for him. There comes a point where damage control is the only option.
  13. SeekingStrength

    SeekingStrength Well-Known Member

    Hi JFK,

    I am so sorry you are living this horror, another in a long string, I am guessing. My gfg32 is also antisocial. He has not been labeled as such by a professional. My daughter, a psychological examiner, suggested husband and I take a look at the criteria a couple years ago. Yes, it is definitely gfg32. Like your son, he has blown several "second chances."

    husband and i were in the pits of despair a few weeks ago. We are doing much better right now, chiefly from advice of members here. We are still in anger. They tell me it will pass, but right now we welcome it because it has helped us see alllll the stuff he has done and recognizing it as difficult child's choices. We sit around at night and say "remember when difficult child....". Therapeutic and we may never run out of stories, lol.

    Many years ago, a $500 check to our church went missing from our kitchen counter. I called difficult child at work (a job from he was fired soon after). Guess what, he knew nothing about the check. The craziest part is there was a message on our house phone a few days later about a checking account he was setting up. WHY DID husband AND I NOT MAKE THE CONNECTION???? We filed a police report, but nothing came of it. There was no endorsement signature on the check, nor the "teller's stamp".

    We worry about him, we love him fiercely. But, we do not like him. at all.

    There comes a time when you say "enough. we are not helping him and have not for a VERY long time". It hurts less to step away than staying on the darn hamster wheel.
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  14. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry it's taken me until this morning to reply. I was so tired and emotionally drained last night and I didn't have the energy to reply although I did read each and every one of your replies several times over. Thank you all so much for your prayers, support, and advice. It helps so much!

    For those of you who don't know me I've been a fairly active member (sometimes more active than other times) since July 2011 when my then 17 year old son was admitted to the psychiatric hospital after threatening to kill me, himself and others. I've had my ups and downs with him before and since that time - mostly downs - but I've never given up on him. He has a diagnosis of bipolar II, depression, conduct disorder with antisocial traits, PTSD, and possible Asperger's. In October of 2012, at the age of 18, he ran away from the group home he was in, went to another state with a friend, and began his life on the streets. He was arrested there twice for theft, spending approximately 2 weeks in jail each time. He decided to come back to NJ in March of last year. Since then he has had multiple placements, worked with multiple agencies, and has had numerous chances to turn his life around. At one point it became almost a full time job for me (on top of my already full time job, school, and caring for my family) because I was constantly calling social workers, non profits, social services, etc, looking for help for him. By September 2013, things had spiraled to rock bottom for him. He had burned every bridge here. He was banned from all of the shelters and social services had sanctioned him for 6 months meaning no cash assistance or food stamps. So, after many long conversations with my husband and father, we decided that it would be best to send him out to Idaho. He boarded a bus at the end of September and has been there ever since.

    Obviously that's just the basic shell of our story. It doesn't tell of the many sleepless nights I had in my warm bed while my child was out on the cold streets. The nightmares I had of him dying a thousand different deaths. It doesn't explain my nearly nervous breakdown from the guilt, fear, and emotional turmoil inflicted upon me each and every time he messed up yet another new beginning. It doesn't even begin to hint at how my marriage and relationship with my now 13 year old son suffered greatly because every ounce of my being was focused on helping and "saving" difficult child. If I were to sit here and write every single agonizing detail I would have a 300 page book.

    And here we are today. difficult child has not been arrested yet but I'm sure it's coming. He's going to leave his new beginning - a warm, safe apartment of his own- and go back to either jail or a shelter and once again be homeless. It's sad and heart wrenching but I'm calm. There's none of that "need to save him" mentality anymore. I'm not letting the sadness, fear, and guilt take over again like I've done so many times in the past. I feel separated from it and that's how I can tell I've grown by leaps and bounds since this journey began. I know I'll have my moments of weakness and there will be times when the grief hits me so hard I'll feel as if I've been punched in the gut but I 'll be able to endure those moments and move on. I won't enable anymore and I won't let this destroy my life or the lives of those around me.
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  15. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Thank you for sharing your back story, JKF. I'm fairly new to the board---been here a couple of months. It has already helped me so much. Writing helps me and reading others' stories helps me, and it helps me in a different way than Al-Anon helps me. I've been working that program diligently for four years.

    My heart breaks for you reading your story. It is also my story, although the details, situation and particulars are different.

    One thing that stands out to me here, today, is the fact that most people are survivors. The will to keep on breathing is a profound one. Your son is still breathing, my son is still breathing (although homeless and who knows where in my town, here today). At least for today. Who would have EVER thought they would be where they are? I am so glad that God doesn't let us know the future, because I sadly believe that we would only focus on the pain of it, not the joys that also come with our lives.

    You and I are still breathing, and today, even more than "just breathing." We have HAD to learn how to survive this greatest of all pain. We have suffered day after day after day after day. We have tried everything in the world to change this. And then, we began to realize we just can't. If we could, we surely would. But we can't. That power is not given to us. That power is elsewhere.

    What power IS given to us? The power to change ourselves. Just that and no more.

    Slowly, somehow, through so many things---hard work, grace, determination, time---we have started to live again. I can tell you are feeling that ability to live again, even right now, even in the midst of uncertainty, crisis, fear and grief. You know where you are headed. JKF, that is huge. That is significant.

    I am glad, for you that you have had geographic distance and physical separation for a while. That can help us so much, to give us time and space and a chance to heal, so we can start moving forward, to the place we must go, for ourselves and for all of the people still here, still that we love, still that need us.

    I am praying for your son today, that somehow, someway, something breaks through his decisions and he can see and grasp a different path and a different way to be.

    I am also praying for you, your husband and your younger son, for courage, strength and energy to keep on taking one step at a time in your own lives.

    We are here for you. We get it.
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  16. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Oh, no.

    I just read this, JKF. I remember so well what you went through with this child. There are times (and this is one of them) when gut level certainty that we have moved heaven and earth to change things for our difficult child kids ~ that we created that other clean, safe place to launch for them out of sheer grit, out of sheer determination to see them succeed ~ there have to be times when that knowledge of what we have done has to be enough, has to be recognized as the triumph it was and is.

    What the child did with it...that is the part of his story he was responsible for writing. He knew better JKF, but he chose this way, chose to write this into his story.

    He chose to shame you before your father. Chose to shame his grandfather before his peers.

    I cannot imagine a force strong enough to create this situation outside of addiction.

    As the others have posted to you JKF, we are right here.

  17. JKF

    JKF Well-Known Member

    Cedar - the crazy thing is it's not addiction and never was. I say that with 100% certainty. He has acted like this since he was a small child. Of course now that he's an adult it's on a larger scale but he has been very disturbed since childhood. If anyone of you were to meet difficult child you would know as certainly as I do that his activities are fueled by severe mental illness and not substance abuse. That's the scary part. I know it's horrible to say but at least if he was abusing drugs that would be an answer as to WHY he is the way he is.

    difficult child is a complete loner. 100% obsessed with video games and electronics. He could happily sit in his room for days (and I'm sure he does) with no human interaction playing online. If anything that's his addiction. That and food.

    That's part of the reason I've tried so hard to help him. Because I truly believe to my core that he's so disturbed he can't control his demons. I'm just to the point where I can't control them either. Never have been able to and never will be. That's the difference now. I finally realize and accept that I have absolutely no control over his life and the choices he makes.

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  18. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    You may both be right...when my son was at a therapeutic boarding school (or was it when he was at a wilderness treatment center?), there were three boys there for "internet addiction." It was a nascent diagnosis at the time, but I think it is real. I think one of my easy child's (16) is addicted to the internet...smart boy, great athlete, getting C's and D's in school and spending 6-8-10 hours/day on the internet...he is so sneaky at hiding it, it pops up on his computer, his ipad, his iphone...he always says he has it on for homework, and I am not fast enough to see...in the end, as with difficult child, he will be accountable for his own actions, and live with the consequences..he narrowly escaped being "not invited back" to his school (went into midterms with a D in chemistry)..only because his dad and I pay a tutor to work with him, and I venture to say that 80% of his studying is done in the presence of his tutor..the rest is in dribs and drabs, and always always with the temptation of the internet right there...a place he used to go just for fun but now allows him to escape the knowledge of his school failures...a lot like difficult child and drugs. I think the internet is a real addiction, especially for the socially awkward like your son, jkf

    I also think that there are actual sociopaths, people genetically lacking in empathy. REally smart ones are corporate raiders and the soulless financiers who overlended and brought the country to its knees. Middle smart ones are just mean and have a litany of failed marriages and miserable coworkers (and a chain of jobs) and neighbors behind them...and less competent ones are some of our difficult children

    There is an interesting book called The Sociopath Next Door that talks about the sociopaths among us...we think of Ted Bundy, or John GAcy, or Hitler when we think of sociopaths, but really they walk among us...probably 4% of the population.

  19. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    JKF, in spite of the pain, you sound clear minded and healthy. This is the line in the sand.

    Sad to say, that is my daughter as well. She fits so many different profiles, narcissist, sociopath, anti social, bi polar, severe anxiety, depression.............her IQ is off the charts, she has a remarkable aptitude for numbers can memorize a credit card # seeing it flash by once..............and remember it a year later.........she was an honors student without trying.............she remembers everything...........her brain is wired so differently then others............which all often comes with mental illness...............and prompted me to continue enabling long after I should have given up............

    And, just like you, right now, there is a line in the sand.............she is in jail. As your son will be shortly. They just can't fit anywhere and they make such poor choices...............but in any case, you are doing the right thing. I am doing the right thing. And, I am sorry you are going through all of this. I remember last March when he was coming home and you were frightened. A year later and you are so much stronger. So am I. Our kids are the same. But we are not.

    That's acceptance. That's freedom.

    As always JKF, holding you close............we've been circling the wagons around each other..............look around we're all here................the whole gang..............you've got us! Sending you gentle hugs.............glad you're here............
  20. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I love this.

    I love the part about it being sad, being heart wrenching, but your moving on. That acknowledgment of emotion and the setting of intention.

    I love the part about enduring the moment and moving on.

    I love the setting of intention in the phrase, "I won't enable anymore...."

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