Where is my place to stand? What to do now.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    First I want to give credit to RN and her current thread, by which I have been influenced. I believe I am now on a similar page, and M may be getting there.

    What I want? I have to find a way to put myself back in the center of my life, not my son. Because when he is my center, I am the effect of HIS ACTIONS or lack. Which is what is happening now.

    I have taken the stand for almost all of this year that I would support my son to change. He has changed, some. He has gained more control over his emotions. He tries harder to accommodate what we want, in terms of our house. He is more cooperative, wants more contact with us, to be more integrated into a family. He did work for us for months and months. He did go to residential treatment twice.

    But in things that are central to us we have no sway over him: the need to be "constructive" (a little work, maybe job training, school, and/pr volunteering) and no marijuana (which we see as robbing his motivation and eating up his money). And it seems we cannot prevail even that he pay a nominal rent.

    For the last couple of weeks M has taken over the micro-managing of my son, the holding him accountable (I had told my son, JUST LEAVE.) And now, predictably, M is exhausted by it. My son seems to be benefiting not at all from this support, which of course does not feel like support to him. Rather he finds it onerous and is trying to shake it off. He wants the support but not the responsibility or any conditions (surprise, surprise.) M is despairing.

    The thing is: my son does not want to be homeless again. But he resents paying rent (rent money cannot go to marijuana), and this month managed to find reasons to not do so and promised to pay $500 on the first of April to compensate, which is approaching.

    My son seems to be angling with M to begin again to work for him, as a means to not pay rent. M said no right out the gate.

    Helping us, gives him the pretext to do nothing for himself. And still, with nothing to do, he still does not do anything. He does maybe one VISIBLE thing, 10 minutes a day of busywork to look busy and the rest of his time is dissipated. (I guess I could prevail on M to let my son work for him again. This is a possibility. And there is a lot my son could do to help me in my house. I need his help and I need his support. Honestly, I cannot even remember what happened to get me to stop letting him help me. Maybe it was because he would come here, ostensibly to help and end up frittering away the day.)

    If my son does not pay rent, I am subsidizing marijuana. If I kick him out...he is homeless...and he will stop the medication he needs. He has a life threatening disease that can be controlled by medication. He stopped it for 6 years, going off and on 2 times, which is dangerous. He resumed it 2 weeks ago voluntarily, but I think to show us "cooperation" and construction actions. His stopping again, I cannot bear. I feel I cannot undermine his health. So this gives him more control over me, to impose his conditions. It feels this way.

    Honestly. I am thinking of just letting him be. I am embarrassed to say it. I am ashamed of myself. Letting him negotiate a price with me that he is willing to pay as rent for the apartment and letting him stay there and smoke up his SSI money. If he wants to do nothing, so be it. I would see and speak to him minimally and keep him away from my house almost entirely. Or is this vindictive and unnecessary? Or shooting myself in the foot. I do not know.

    The only other thing I can think of is demanding that he buy his marijuana legally. From a dispensary where he has a medical marijuana card. This would require trips to a big city a few hours from us, where he has reason to go each month to see his doctor (he sees her infrequently, but more than he did before). He will resent the cost of the train trips. Perhaps I could discount the rent to take this expense into account.

    My bottom line would be much, much reduced: he could use his medical marijuana, if he obtains it legally. He could fritter away his time, as he chooses. He would stay on his necessary medication, and go to his appointments. He would pay rent that he feels he can manage but commit to a certain sum, and follow through. That is it.

    I would back way, way out of his life. So would M. (I do not know if M will go along with the above proposals. He believes strongly that we need to keep up the pressure on my son--which my son resists and finds ways to subvert.)

    The way I feel now, if this saves my life, it is worth it. Let him handle his own. He would have the stability to take his medication. He would be safe off the street. And I would have my boundaries. I would have disabused myself of the idea that there is anything at all I can do that will influence him to live better.

    You see. I get sick and sick at heart through all of this. When I am involved with my son and things fall apart, I get despondent, depressed. I lose all of my own motivation to live well, to take care of myself. I get horrible stomach pain. My guts rebel. I sleep poorly or not at all.

    I am seeking a way to relate to my son that supports my own sense of balance and his well-being, the basics. Where he is no longer the spoke of the wheel around which I revolve and my life revolves. This place to be (in his life) needs to be limited and minimal to that which I do FOR ME; not to change him. I recognize that it is both ineffective and unworkable to impose what I want onto him. At the same time, he is mentally ill and physically ill. I do not want to cut him off because it does not help.

    Thank you everybody.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I reread my above post.

    It seems that my two issues (my current bottom-line) are thus:

    1. The marijuana. Do I fold on this (recognizing I have no control) completely?

    Or do I insist he obtain his marijuana legally, and exert some accountability over the quantity of money he spends? This would involve giving him some incentive to be transparent about his costs, by giving him some limited rent subsidy, as a kind of incentive to consume less.

    This is tied to the rent: The rent is designed as much to take money away from the "pot" that would otherwise go to the pot.

    2. The rent. He has 900 dollars or so coming in. There is no reason to not pay rent. I do not support him by not requiring rent. This month I delayed accepting the rent because I did not want to give him the right to stay on, unless he made constructive choices, and followed through. WRONG idea. He smoked up the money.

    More and more I am seeing that the untenable thing is to believe and to maintain that I can do anything to motivate him to make and sustain better choices.
    ____

    I am left with:

    I have a right to rent. And that it should be paid.

    I have a legal right to have a marijuana rule but no means really to impose it or to enforce it except for throwing out my son which I do not want to do.

    I have no way to enforce constructive actions that he does not want.

    I have to work with what he does want.
    __

    So what does he want?

    He wants a secure and safe place to live. With minimal or no rent.

    He wants to use his marijuana.
    __

    What do I want, bottom line?

    That he continue with his medication. That he be safe and secure. And if I admit it to myself, that he be close. I do want him to pay some rent, but I am open to renegotiating with him. So I would be open to his working with us to reduce his rent but not to eliminating it completely. I think.

    I could live, I think, with his marijuana if it was limited and controlled.

    What makes somebody not want a life, or to take responsibility to make a life? One answer. If somebody does it for them. Another answer, if mental illness or poor judgement precludes it.
     
  3. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    Copa, I am reading along and understand your struggle because it sounds like me when the voice in my head is swimming. When I am in that place, I find myself asking, "What do I want?"

    But the only answers I can give are what *he* wants, or what *I think* he wants, or what I will feel as a consequence of him doing what *I want* him to do.

    It has become more and more apparent to me over the last few months how much my thoughts, feelings, and identity have become tied up in my son's decisions. His bad choices effectively became what defines me.

    Over the years I have become less and less available to my spouse, my daughter, my hobbies, my friends, and my very self because of the focus I have put on my son and my perceived failure to "fix" him -- somebody who never wanted "fixing" in the first place.

    It's unhealthy that I have lost touch with myself so badly. What I want doesn't even register on my radar, unless I make a conscious effort to exclude the things I want *for him* and the things that are out of my control.

    Here's what I want:
    1. Peace of mind.
    2. Compassion, rather than anger, when he falls.
    3. Knowledge that I did my best to show him love.
    4. Keeping my end of the lines of communication open.
    5. Giving what I am willing to give freely, and no more.

    I guess that would be my question, Copa. What do YOU want? If you want things you have no control over, trying to force or negotiate them will likely just lead to more disappointment and frustration.
     
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Little by little I have been climbing out of the valley where I found myself after my mother's death.

    I was walking every day and loving it. I was losing weight, happily. I was planning a trip back east which was symbolic of a new place to stand. For me.

    And then again I overreached with my son, and found myself fallen down.

    So that is the truth of it, in a nutshell. When I overreach which means I lose touch with myself as my center, I fall out of the tree. He does not suffer. I do. I lose center, and I abandon myself.

    I must blame myself for my inability to fix him, or that he stays unfixed. Clearly irrational and useless sentiments, but not consciously known, but felt. This:
    So what you say here:
    I understand this way: Our well-being is in us. Which consists not only of thinking and doing constructive and beneficial things for us. But as importantly the constant maintenance of a locus of control in us, and the constant vigilance of, rethinking of and remaking of our boundaries with respect to our child.
    Yes. Me too. I lose sight of the incremental losses over the years, because they make a new normal which is always destabilized; living at the knife edge. And there it is, I have lost myself. And not known it.
    This sounds good and clear, Albatross. But difficult to operationalize.

    What I am saying is that the impulse to say, "no marijuana" and pay xxx dollars of rent, is so seductive. And there I end up: fallen out of my tree, crashed to the ground, looking (again, for a place to stand). Disoriented. Bruised. Hurting and feeling I am the problem. Because I am.

    *I am seeing, that I am missing the point, here, your point. Which is the results you have defined are in you. They are not in him. This is the distinction that keeps failing me.
    I want to be my own special flower. I became enamored with that phrase from The Little Prince.

    I keep hearing the siren song that my son represents to me. The sirens, what do they sing to me? It cannot be my love for him. It must be something else. It has to be: doubt, fear, my own history, and my own lure to abandon myself.

    Every single time I succumb to this siren song. I abandon myself and I really seem to abandon my son. By objectifying him. I keep putting CONDITIONS on my love for him. I demand that he produce. Or else. Pinning my son down, holding him hostage to this demand or another, is to live from a completely different worldview than that which I strive for. Because my love for him is unconditional and forever. As is my caring (which is not any specific thing or action, but a meta thing.) This is how I keep tying myself up in knots. Because I get trapped not only by my own machinations, but my own self-deceptions. I lose touch with myself and who I am.

    What do I want? To be: Safe. Protected. Centered. Productive. Active. Constructive. Loving. Creative. Moving.

    Not one of these things has an iota to do with my son. It seems the things I come to demand for my son, are things I want for myself. And when I come to center on my son's need for these, I forfeit, I give up on myself. I lose any sense of my own yearning and deserving. And I despair. In effect, I abandon myself. Not one of these things, when I focus on my son, can I insist he have or be. I can only be them, myself.

    I want to show my love to my son unconditionally. But at the same time, be my own special flower. Which to me means, opening myself to others, to my own gifts, and being safe.

    If I take heart from what you want, your five aims: There is no quandary at all. I go to him and we talk openly. I take no responsibility or power position in anything. I am open with my love and I listen to him with an open mind, compassionately. I speak openly too about what I need, can do and cannot. (Thinking clearly first about where I stand.) It is really I think about having an open heart, taking responsibility for my part and for myself. If I look at it that way it is doable.

    Thank you, Albatross. Very, very much.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  5. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    Copa,

    I am following along, and nodding. It saddens me that as mothers our love for them takes from us. It saddens me that the tangible attachment we have to our sons is a steep price of our other relationships that are just as if not more important.

    I think the fact that you know what your goal is, is the turning point. You remember the feelings you are missing. When our son has a bad day, so do we. How dare them! Ha! Fact is, how dare us allow them to steal our joy...its our problem!

    If your son can afford to pay rent, then he should. Do you then micro manage what he can do then? Stopping pot seems unnogotiable to him. Our son is sober, and is I'm afraid the last few months showing growth..I'm afraid to jinx it. I do know that when he no longer lives with us, what he does is on him.

    I want a retirement with my husband, I want laughter, joy and I want to choose happiness.

    I thought of you other day when I heard a song, " Keeper of the flame, Keeper of the pain".

    You know what you want, find a middle ground that works for you first, and gives him control of his decisions. You will always love him, and he knows that.

    Congrats Copa..celebrate you!
     
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you mof.

    We bought this second house for him to live in, at a time when I could not stand living with him. We did not envision at the time, that we would come to use the house, letting him stay there as a bargaining chip, which is what it has become in part. I seem to be using housing as my only power source. My bad. I am seeing that now.

    All of this seems clear (Duh. Why did I not think of it? I get so in the weeds.)

    In a sense my son does live with us, not in our house but in a place we own. But if he is paying rent, he deserves the autonomy that a renter would receive. No?
    Yes.
    I guess I need him to stay treatment compliant and see the doctor. I need him to pay rent. I need him to take care of where he is living. If he is using marijuana, let him find a way to use it legally. (Is this fair, if it means he is burdened with the extra cost of traveling to a place where there is a dispensary? This is something to consider. After all, while the mechanisms have not been put into place my state did vote to legalize marijuana.
    Yes.
    Yes. I love your goals, mof. I may steal them.

    Thank you very much.
     
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Today is my birthday. I guess I did not want to not see my son so I went to search him out--he was not there--as I was leaving he arrived. He was pleasant and cooperative.

    I asked his plans. He said he wanted to stay as he saw no immediate option to go back to the big city where we are from which is very, very expensive. He said he plans on paying me the $500 he had promised, to account for last month's and next month's rent.

    He says he feels on track, has established a routine, and freely volunteered this was 100 percent more than he had been doing before--when he said he was completely disregarding us and our desire that he be constructive. He said he felt good about what he was doing, and that he felt able to do it, and wanting to. He very much gave me the sense that he was doing what he wanted in the way he wanted to do it. He seemed to take ownership. That is what I am trying to say here.

    He described his routine as weekdays going to the college library: studying math for 2 or 3 hours; reading for enjoyment; walking a lot for cardio to increase his stamina for martial arts; doing martial arts 4 or 5 evenings a week. I asked about therapy: he says he has gone to the County Mental Health (coincidentally I worked there 20 years ago) and had had his intake appointment. He said he liked how professional the staff seemed.(?) He said he had been staying away from our house to avoid conflict.

    He asked if I wanted him to come back home with me tonight and I said "no." He volunteered to come over tomorrow so that we can chat.

    He seemed self-contained and did not at all seem "high." We chatted about neighborhood goings on and he asked me to please make sure the cat had water. That was that.

    My son did volunteer he wanted to enroll in a couple of online classes. I asked if he had applied for financial aid, he had not.

    I went alone. M's stance is that we have to stay committed to one path. We cannot keep throwing my son out. It does not work. For my son or for me. So we are kind of stuck with each other.

    I feel much better having seen and spoken to him. Much calmer. Not depressed. Not desperate. Not in crisis. Calm.

    I think I took on M's sense of desperation, his sense of failed expectations. This should be a lesson to me to stay centered in myself.

    I did tell my son that I felt betrayed that he lied to me about not being prescribed the medication. He said he did not realize that the doctor was noting that she was prescribing it on his written records. He said "that was me who wanted to wait a month or so to see what the trend was." It makes sense that the doctor would cover herself by charting that she prescribed them, while going along with his program. I did count his pills. He had not rushed to pick the medication up, but he did start.

    All in all the distance we made this past couple of weeks, however hard it has been for me, seemed to serve each of us, and both of us together. Is that detachment?

    Earlier I went for a walk and loved every minute of it. Having not walked the last 2 weeks, made me savor the experience. All and all a good birthday for me.

    Thank you all.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  8. dayatatime

    dayatatime Member

    Happy birthday, Copa.

    I relate sooooo very much. You sound in a better place, but I hear so much of me in you that I just want to point out to you (to me):

    "I feel I cannot undermine his health."

    That you would not undermining if he chooses to stop medication because you have kicked him out-- *he* would be undermining his health.

    It's all the chess playing in your thoughts-- if I do this then he will do that.... the attempting to think many moves ahead that I identify with. I, too, see these pits- equivalents to the threat of stopping medication that are like these big, noisy flashing red lights that I put so much energy into steering the course away from. It's exhausting. I know it from the inside out.

    Anyway- glad you have found a resting place. We need rest. And I'd think a minute about where the insistence of buying from a dispensary is enforceable. Having conditions that either can't really be monitored or that I have to bend over backward and twisted and backward again to monitor have harmed me in the past.

    Be well.
     
  9. so ready to live

    so ready to live Active Member

    Oh Copa---the dance is so difficult. I have followed along as usual.
    If I can touch base with my son for few minutes, know he is breathing, it feeds me for days. Inversely, if there is drama, worry, panic, it defeats me for days. My detachment is so conditional it's not real detachment is it? It is a process. In general, I personally feel less depressed but true joy evades me. When I stay busy in order to not focus on him, whether he's in a good state or bad, I'm a little better.
    I value all the posts here to feel I'm not alone. I value your thoughts on your own son as it pushes me to evaluate my level of enmeshment. I get so tired of the dance....prayers.
     
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Very very generally...
    I can see giving your son an extremely over the top easy rent to pay.
    Something noticeably under valued. Big time. Something all his friends would say "OMG...that is a fabulous deal!"
    See if he would buy into it and actually verbalize "Wow..that IS the deal of a life time" or something along those lines.
    And if he doesn't abide by "the deal of a life time" I would ask him to leave.
    I'm conflicted re: the marijuana simply because I recall you said he has a medical reason/and legal right to use marijuana. I don't know if there is some way to make sure the only marijuana he uses is that which he gets through legal channels. Maybe set a rule that he can only obtain marijuana legally and can only smoke it within the confines of his home. After all, a person probably shouldn't take their medicine in public. I don't know. I just don't know. Much much confusion with this one.
    But, if you give him an extraordinary deal for rent, one that is above and beyond reasonable and he can't abide by that, I think it may indicate that he is not trying...not even a little.
    This is just me, though.
    It is good to read he has made some progress in various areas.
    I hope you can continue to explore doing things you enjoy doing and simply do them.
    This is an absolute shame...so very taxing to the mind and body.
    PS Happy Birthday!
     
  11. bluebell

    bluebell Active Member

    Copa,
    I understand where you are coming from and appreciate all the responses you have received. My son reached out in texts last night and is considering rehab. I could not sleep all night, tossing and turning on all the practicalities this would involve. I'm oncall this week so all of it will be infinitely more difficult if it is this week and I started resenting him for 'picking' this week of the month. But in reality, these are mental gymnastics that he has put us thru before and never followed up on. Most likely I will be working all week and just dealing with the incremental drama that is A's life right now.
    I have no advice but I am following along on what you have been given and the thoughts of those who have been before us and with us. Just wanted to reach out and connect.
     
  12. RN0441

    RN0441 100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

    Copa

    I think you should do what gives YOU the most peace right now.

    It doesn't have to be forever. Let him pay low rent for six months or so and let it be. I'd let him smoke his legal marijuana too. It's not worth all the stress that you put on yourself to fight this. It is a losing battle.

    You can reevaluate later to see what needs to be changed.

    That's what I would do. Simplify.
     
  13. Bart

    Bart So Much Fun-Not!

    Copabanana, I have a similar son. I can hardly believe there's another one like him out there!
     
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi bart. What do you prefer I call you?

    I have to run to make dinner but wanted to acknowledge your post. I will write a longer response later to update you. I so much would like to hear more about your son and you....Have you thought of starting a new thread with a bit of your back story? Your son's age and history. How you are handling it? Where you are now, in your relationship? How he is doing? I would love to "talk" more.
     
  15. Bart

    Bart So Much Fun-Not!

    ok, I will give you the whole story. Should I write it here or on my profile page?
     
  16. Bart

    Bart So Much Fun-Not!

    Bart is fine! Even though I am a female LOL
     
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Bart.

    Why not start a new thread with the story? It will help you to lay it out. At least it does me.

    And then at the end (or beginning) you can put what your central issues, questions, obstacles are, now, that you would like support to resolve.