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Adult son 33 is homeless, Im Mom, 57, trying so hard to detach, not enable...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Payla, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. Payla

    Payla New Member

    I am in the struggle of my life, trying to set boundaries and watch my son go down hill. He has had many problems with responsibility his whole adult life and we, my husband, his stepdad, have enabled him since he was 18. He has had addiction problems but mostly just severe inability or refusal to deal with life. He was evicted in June from an apt I paid for, and is living in his car that we pay for. (have to, was stupid enough to co pay 1 1/2 years ago.) We have stopped most of support, but I still get sucked in and it is killing me, not to mention affecting my job and marriage. Some days I am so strong and sure I am doing the right thing, other days I am just sad. Im not conflicted about not enabling him anymore; I fully believe this is the right thing to do, but winter is coming and watching him be homeless is so hard. I am getting ready to get a restraining order so he will stop calling me at work; up to 50 times a day!!!! We had to get a no trespassing orderr to keep him from coming to our house to demand money for a hotel. I am a fool but I listen to the voicemails and call him back!!! Im in therapy and reading tons about co dependancy and enabling, but I'm not following the program very well lately. I think codependancy in a parent child relationship is harder to break, especially for a mother. I changed my cell phone number and now have peace on weekends, but come to work to tons of desperate voicemails. His tale lately is that he cant get a job because he has no clean clothes and cant shower: both untrue. I keep telling him to go to mental health clinic. I need peace and I need strengh to watcth this play out.
  2. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Welcome Payla. I'm sorry you had to find us, but I'm glad you did. Many of us understand your predicament, we've been there. It is a very difficult decision to detach from your child, no matter how old they are. I'm happy to know you have a therapist, because you need all the support you can muster up. I'd find a codependency CoDa 12 step group too, you may need more support then you presently have.

    I have a 39 year old daughter who has mental issues and I just recently had to do what you're in the process of doing, setting very strict boundaries with her and the lifestyle she leads. Ultimately, after getting her hooked up with the local Mental Health org. which can get her help with housing, jobs, education, medications, health care, etc. I had to distance myself from her lifestyle choices. It was way too much intensity and drama. By making sure she was set up with all the services that would assist her, I was able to let go at that point. It was a process of systematically detaching little by little with a lot of support. I don't know if she is availing herself to those services, however, she is honoring my request to not involve me in her drama and not contact me unless she has a job and she is in therapy.

    It doesn't sound as if your son is honoring any of your requests which makes it more challenging. I don't believe there is any right way or wrong way to detach from our kids, we all have to find our way through and figure out how we can do this amazingly challenging feat. It takes time and truckloads of help, in my opinion. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

    Of course you need peace, you deserve that. He doesn't have a right to rob you of your life. It sounds to me as if you are doing all the appropriate things with this last one of the restraining order perhaps being the final piece. It IS hard, there is no way around that, what becomes necessary is for you to focus on yourself and your life and let him sink or swim in his. I am truly sorry, I know how much it hurts and breaks your heart. Hang in there, keep posting, do kind things for yourself, get lots of support.((( HUGS)))
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  3. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Thank you so much for responding! Your warm post helps in just knowing others go through this. I admire you for your strength and for raising your grand daughter. I am going on a vacation with my husband and youngest daughter, out of the country for a week this Monday. When I get back, I plan to get the restraining order and I will perhaps go find a CODA group. I would feel so much better if he would get help of course, but I have to do this for his sake and mine, so he may get desperate enough to go get help.
  4. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    You're welcome. I found this board last January, just as everything heated up with my daughter and she was arrested and then lived with us for awhile, then lived in her car, it was horrible. However, with the support of others on this board, I saw that not only was I not alone, but others were going through all the same feelings and fears, resentments, sorrows and nightmares about what COULD happen to our kids. I had to find that strength just as you are right now, it is not natural to have to do what we have to do.

    I don't know where you live, but I'm in California and I belong to a very large Health org. called Kaiser, which has a remarkably good codependency program in their chemical dependency network. They have therapists trained in codependency and offer private therapy as well as groups. The groups are wonderful because I am among other mothers who are heartbroken about their kids choices, whether it's because of substance abuse, mental illness or both. We see ourselves in each other and really help one another get through this. It's a year long program which came to me just as all of this was coming to a head. Now that I am (or seem to be and hope to be) passed the worst part, I can look back and really see that without all of that support, I think I would have been suffering a whole lot longer and perhaps maybe not been able to let go at all. I don't know, but what I do know is that the support of trained individuals helped me to see the whole thing through a different perspective, and with support that perspective made more and more sense and helped me to let go and accept. Acceptance is the key, in my opinion. If you have a spiritual network, it's very helpful to utilize prayer and meditation as well.

    It goes against so much of what we feel in our hearts that we want to do for our children, it goes against all our instincts to protect and love and nurture and help. It's like trying to stop a run-away train. That's why you need so much support. Look into your health plan and see if anything like that is offered where you live. If your son is mentally challenged as well, look in to the local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness- that's who I got my daughter hooked up with) they offer support groups for families, for you, and believe me, it helps you to understand, cope, find resources and begin to find peace. Just keep digging until you find the right resources for you. The way out of this, as I see it, in addition to detaching from your son, is to really take EXCELLENT, continuing care of yourself, to get all the support you can so that you can not only detach from him, but have a good, healthy, joyful, peaceful life. You certainly deserve that, especially now, as we are older and close to retirement.

    I send you warm wishes and prayers that you find peace and a light heart. Oh, and have a wonderful vacation with your husband and daughter, put this all aside and go have fun! (I went to Kauai when my daughter was homeless, it was hard, but it really helped to break the unhealthy connection) (((HUGS)))
  5. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Good morning !
    your reply has helped me start my day on a positive determined note. I'm going for a walk with a dear friend in a few minutes who always helps me with my struggle. I will go to CODA when I get back. I just keep giving my son the number for the mental health clinic and he crumbles it up and throws it away. We live in Rhode Island so winter is cold. At some point when I really stop giving him gas for his car and cash for food he will seek help? I'm weary thinking about him and vey ready for the vacation: Ireland!!! I was thinking the same thing you said; it will help with detachment because I will be out of touch. I pray every day; I have very strong faith, and my counselor is great. I'm grateful I found this site and for connecting with you!
  6. adt2012

    adt2012 New Member

    Hello, so glad to see that I'm not alone anymore! I found this site yesterday out of sheer desperation. I typed "What to do when your child steals from you" in the search engine and thankfully, this forum came back. This thread spoke to my situation as my GFC is 21 and headed towards that end. The story is too long to tell right now - almost don't know where to begin. Suffice it to say that I reached the end of my rope with him last night and asked him to leave.

    Of course he was back in an hour asking if he could just stay here at night and he would leave during the day. Somehow, I had the strength to say no and close the door while he was attempting to manipulate me by saying, "Whatever happens to me out here is on your head!". Almost right after I locked the door for the 3rd time, he knocked again, this time with tears in his eyes. Unmoved, I demanded that he check into a facility immediatley to get help because there is nothing else I can do for him at this point.

    This morning I took him in, provided my insurance card and left him with a stern warning. "Don't even think about calling me with a sob story in a few days, telling me that all is well and you're back on track! Stay here and address your issues - all of them! This is the last thing that I can do for you. If you choose to walk away from this opportunity to get well, you're on your own." He called tonight and seems to be readjusting well (he was there last year). His attitude seems positive and he says that he is looking forward to the therapy. So far so good. The only part thing is that we've had so many starts/stops on this journey so far. I'm just praying that this one will be on going. Thankfully he is only addicted to pot. I'm sure it could be much worse. Then again, pot for him is like heroin to others so at the end of the day, I guess it's the same thing. He has lied, stolen, become violent and verbally abusive all while going through the cycle of manic depression. This is my little boy with the smile that warmed my heart. Somewhere along the line, he turned into someone that is unrecognizable and breaks my heart. I keep trying to save him but of course it isn't working. I'm not sure where this will end. I'm just praying that it doesn't end with him homeless or dead.

    So many thoughts, so much more background and detail. So many other things going on at the same time. Sometimes I wish I could have a nervous breakdown, I just don't have the time!!! Forgive my weak attempt at adding some levity here. I try to smile where I can while I hold on! Thanks for reading and for your honesty which helped tremendously. Best wishes in your respective situations.

  7. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the board. It is so awfully hard. I have a 31 year old son who lives with me who really doesnt have any substance abuse issues or major mental health problems but I have got to find a way to get him out on his own because it simply isnt doing him any good to continue living with me. He is a perpetual teen at this point. He works but doesnt really do much else for himself and it drives me nuts. I dont think I can actually move into my empty nest point the way I am supposed to with him here and it is causing me to stagnate.
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Good morning ADT, welcome to our little corner of the world. I'm sorry that you're going through this with your son. I'm glad you're here, you are not alone. Keep writing, it helps. I hope your son wakes up this time and gets the help he needs. In the meantime, my pretty standard advice, having been there, is to get yourself surrounded with as much support as you can. Find a therapist if you haven't already, get in a group of some kind, make yourself available to others who are trained, and/or have been there, who can offer you guidance, a soft shoulder, a safe environment to vent, rage, weep and talk, and put yourself in places where others really understand.

    We find ourselves in a very unique and extremely challenging point in our lives, one that goes against the normal parenting trajectory, it can be a lonely and very disheartening journey and to make it all more difficult, the road to peace is up and down, sideways and back and forth. Detaching from our kids is such a difficult and heartbreaking experience, some opt out completely, others just continue the enabling, some go back and forth, some manage to remove themselves from all the drama and intensity, some get serious stress related health issues, it's all over the map. We each have to find our own way, there isn't one right way, or a book to tell us how to do it.

    I'm sorry you are suffering. I know that fear you harbor of your son being homeless or dead, our mother's hearts most devastating worry. I understand and so do many others here. Keep posting, we're listening, get yourself support and lots of it, read books, pray, take walks, try to find joy each day so that you remember you have a life too, connect with others who understand where you are, take VERY, VERY good care of yourself. I send you caring thoughts and prayers for you to find peace. (((HUGS)))
  9. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    (((hugs))) It is extremely hard! My difficult child is 34yo and I feel as if I have dealt with this my entire life. After a 2 year relationship from hell with another 37yo difficult child he was conning me for money to finish school so he could get a job. He was telling me he was homeless, needed money for food, blah... blah... blah... I fell for it and found out it was a lie and they were using the money to party.

    I finally found out when I had to call the police to get the 37yo difficult child, that I had met once, to stop harrassing me. Then he really was homeless!!

    It hurts BUT they will use you and manipulate you and leave you in financial ruins, and feel no remorse. I have had my difficult child in many programs and now it is up to him. He is presently working and lives in another state. THANK GOD! It still hurts BUT I no longer feel responsible for his many life screw ups. You can only control your life not anothers, even your child. He is an adult and has been for many years - for some reason they simply do not learn or want to be responsible. If you don't let him go you will be supporting him for the rest of his life.

    This is a free online book that has helped along with many other books, and of course counseling. Reading the posts from this forum and the substance abuse forum is a great help.

    Do things for yourself and enjoy your much deserved vacation!
  10. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Dear Tired,
    Thank you for your reply and online book recommendation! It does help so much to talk to others in a similar situation. Hugs back to you !
  11. Payla

    Payla New Member

    thank you for your post, I will reply tomorrow morning, I'm too tired tonight.
  12. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    When you leave for vacation, be sure your house and your valuables are secured. Your son might decide he is entitled to break in and help himself to your belongings.
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Welcome to the board Payla :)

    It's good that you realize you've been enabling your son. It will help you learn to stop the behaviors (and way of thinking) and learn to detach. But it's not an instant thing, it takes time and practice.

    I have not read other responses as I didn't have time this morning, so forgive me if I repeat anything someone else might have said.

    First thing you need to convince yourself of is that the choices your son makes are his choices, not yours, good or bad. You can't make him do anything, you can't force him to make the right decisions. You can only control yourself and what you will and will not do. Everyone makes bad choices from time to time. It's how we learn and grow as people. When we make a bad choice, we learn from the consequences of that choice. If we don't learn, we're doomed to continuously repeat the same bad choices over and over again. So by stepping in and removing the natural consequences to a bad choice/decision (enabling) you interrupt the natural learning process for your son. This does not mean this is your fault, he is still, regardless of whether you enable him or not, responsible for his own behavior.

    If he is homeless, there are homeless shelters. If he is hungry, there are many different ways to obtain food. Being homeless, worrying about where he might sleep safely, worrying about where that next meal is going to come from, might be the motivator to find work, his own place, to finally grow up and take on the adult role in his own life. You can help by directing him to such places, enabling would be giving him a place to sleep and money for food. (see what I mean?)

    Detaching and learning not to enable can at times be a fine line to walk. So, like I said, it's a learning process. Learning to set up your own boundaries and stick to them is huge and makes the process easier.

    I'm glad you found us.

  14. Payla

    Payla New Member

    Hound dog,
    Thank you! Your words are true and good advice. As Recoveringenabler said, it is not a natural thing to do as a mother which makes it very difficult, although on an intellectual level I completely am on board. I am so grateful I found this site, the replies have been so wrm and comforting. I am committed to getting better at detachment for his sake and mine. It is hard!!!! Going on vacation for a week Need the time AWAY.
  15. dcgirlla

    dcgirlla New Member

    Wow, this sounds so much like the situation I am in now. I too, looked up son stealing and thank God I came across this site. My son took my ATM card about a month ago and took out several hundred dollars. When I found out a few days later, he apologized and said he had to pay a ticket. Whatever.. I told him he would have to find another place to stay because he wasn't staying here anymore. He had just gotten out of drug rehab several months back and had stopped going to recovery meetings. One of the written rules was that he would go to the meetings 3 nights a week. Long story, short he moved in with his sister. He helps to watch her kids and has a few side jobs while he is waiting to start school. Friday was my birthday, my daughter invites me over to eat and at some point he takes my ATM card and I find out the next day that he had taken out 200 dollars. I denied it, denied it, denied it. I went ahead and filed a police report so that the video footage could be looked at. The bank had told me what time the money was taken out. So today my son texted me and admitted he was the one who took it out. I feel like I should press charges, but it makes me physically ill. His name and the charges will be printed in our local paper. We live in a fairly small town. I know he needs to bear the consequences of his bad behavior. Any thoughts, comments, encouragement? My husband died 4 years ago so makes it even harder, I feel so alone.
  16. Payla

    Payla New Member

    I know exactly how you feel. I also live in small town and my next step is restraining order and if and when
    My son violates it, it will be in the local paper. I am getting good support and advice from my therapist and dear friends and reading; stop caring about what others think. What is right thing to do for your son to feel consequences of his action? You are not helping him by not reporting it. You are hurting him. Easy to say, hard to do, I KNOW!!! Hugs . You are not alone, we are here for you!
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  17. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    Welcome :)

    That situation for me, would be cut and dry. I have my limits and stealing is a line my kids not dare to cross. I'd have pressed charges. Many parents here have been forced to do so, it's certainly a very hard thing to do, and it can take a while for a parent to reach that point.

    Living in a small town wouldn't influence my decision. (and we do happen to live in a small town) I taught my kids "If you do the crime you'd better be prepared to do the time". Mom would never raise bail money either. You have to stop and think about it this way, they targeted you for their crime (and it IS a crime) because they don't believe for a moment you'd press charges........so you're a safe target.

    But that is why setting up your own boundaries and making a thought out plan you can live with when they get crossed is important. Instead of just reacting, you take thought out steps instead.

  18. Tiredof33

    Tiredof33 Active Member

    When my son was spending so much time in jail we lived in a city. He and his friends were stealing from me. Someone broke in and totally wiped me out, even furniture, while I was at work. My family knew what was going on but it wasn't in the papers.

    Yes, you are an easy target and they play on the fact that you will not have them arrested.

    Fate came along very soon and I was transferred about 30 miles away and I moved. Things did get much better for me. The difficult children like to brag about stealing and being in jail. They are a total mystery to me!

    Now I am retired and we moved back to my rural small home town. EVERYTHING ends up in the paper and EVERYONE gossips.

    Luckily difficult child stayed in another state. I can say he is doing better, but he loves to post things on FB - like I have 3 felonies will I ever gets agood job ... good woman...drama...more drama.

    Pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase have some pride and do not post your dirt for the world to see!

    He just went through a homeless period and he was living in the woods, he would not go to a homeless shelter. I was criticized for not letting him move in with me. My nephew was working part time and was just laid off. He has slept on my sister's sofa for so many years. She lies and covers for him so much. He does not have a drivers license - he doesn't have the money to get it reinstated from 2 DUIs.

    A cousin has a son the very same and he was just out of prison and can't find a job. I doubt if he is really looking. She pays his bills including beer and cigs. And goes to pick up the girlfriend so she can spend the weekend with him.

    All of these problems are drug related. It is extremely hard, but you have to treat them the same as anyone else that steals from you. If you don't set boundaries it will continue.

    My heart breaks that I have a son like this - it is a daily struggle to say 'it's out of my hands' and turn it over to a higher power. BUT I deserve a life too and I worked very hard for my money - so can he or do without.

    (((hugs to us all)))
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  19. Bambie

    Bambie New Member

    Gosh everyone....while reading this, it helps me to understand that I am not the only one in this situation. I desperately need support from others and I often feel as though I am the only one dealing with it. My son is 33 years old, I am 56 and he has an alcohol problem. He is homeless 50% of the time and the other50% is when I or someone is helping him. I just cant do it anymore. If you were to meet him, he is the nicest person you could meet (sometimes people dont believe that he does what he does because he has great manners and knows how to charm.....he is also intelligent and well spoken) However, I have had this problem since he was a teen of approx 16....but over the years he has become worse. At the age of 16 he took off with a transient family ....got his 14 year old girlfriend pregnant. A year later, the girlfriend was killed in a car accident....the new born baby was in intensive care for weeks but survived. My husband and I spent our whole savings getting custody of the baby ...away from the other gr-parents who are crack addicts. The courts claim to be in the best interest of the child.....(lol) so we had to prove their addiction despite the fact that they had numerous arrests, etc. (Luckily, my son had enough sense that he wanted us to have the baby and actually helped us). Fast forward and thousands of dollars and numerous attorneys later, we won and have been raising her since she was a baby. She is now 17 years old....and a great kid. However, she looks at her dad as an annoying brother who she wants nothing to do with (she knows he is her dad). My son cannot seem to hold a job, he drinks horribly, he urinates in bottles in his room (leaving them to lay around until he throws them out), et. He just cannot live with us anymore......and I cant take the stress of his issues anymore. I believe that my son has some emotional problems that can be helped with the right doctor....and I think he needs to be put on medication along with a drug/alcohol program. Through the years, I have had him arrested, guided him to an alcohol program (he walked from it), pleaded with the courts, etc....but it seems there is no way to help him. I just dont know what to do or where to do..........and it is so hard to see him on the streets. Now that his daughter is almost an adult, my husband and I can finally see our life without kids again....but I am concerned that my son will never be capable of supporting himself....and my life will never be peaceful. I just want to retire and enjoy my life before I am 90 years old..... Any input would be great....I am open to any form of help...
  20. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Hi Bambi, welcome to the board, I'm glad you found us. I'm sorry you are going through all of this with your son. I too have an adult daughter who cannot take care of herself well, is sometimes homeless, makes bad choices, etc. however, it's mental illness, not addiction. I too am raising her daughter, my granddaughter, who is 16 now (and also thinks of her mother in a similar way as your granddaughter thinks of her Dad).

    It sounds to me as if you have done a lot for your son, likely way beyond a lot. At this point, there is nothing more to do. I can say that with the absolute full knowledge of what that means to you and how much it hurts to get to that point. There is no where to go from here but for you to let go, detach, accept the situation and your son for what it is and who he is. You cannot change it. You didn't create it. You cannot make him healthy or guide him to the right place when he doesn't want to go there. Like you, I tried everything too. Most of us here do. And, most of us get to the point you're at, we hit that wall and then what? All your instincts say, protect, love, take care of, give, make better, help........but you've done all of that, right? And, he is still the same.

    So, now is the challenging part, you must set strict boundaries, boundaries that have you as the focus, that protect you, your husband and your granddaughter, boundaries that keep your son's lifestyle choices out of your life. Which, I know from experience, is the hardest thing you'll ever do. And, at this point, exactly what you have to do. All you can control is your reactions to him and exactly what you are willing to do and not willing to do. I would give that a lot of thought and come up with a plan.

    What I did with my daughter was to get her connected to the local Mental health organization which can provide housing, counseling, jobs, training, education, health care, etc. (NAMI- the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which you can Google and find a chapter in your area if that feels right to you) I paid for her to get to what I called "level ground" since she had, by her own choices and by some terrible things that happened to her that weren't her choice, fallen so far down, she needed some help getting back. I provided that help all the while telling her that once everything was arranged, she was then on her own. And, finally, once I accomplished that, I realized the other part of her life is creating intense dramas which were emotionally, physically, mentally, financially and spiritually draining me, so I told her to keep all of that away from me because it was having such a negative impact on me. The final boundary I set with her was to tell her not to contact me until she had gotten into therapy AND gotten a job. I cannot be involved in her life. So far, she has honored that request. I have no contact with her except occasional emails. I hope she can avail herself to the help that's been offered, but I don't know if she will.

    This is not the ideal life I wanted with my only child, but it is the only life I can have which respects me, keeps me out of the insanity of her choices, and keeps me away from watching her live in the horror of her life where I feel helpless, angry, filled with sorrow all the time and hooked into riding the line of helping versus enabling. It is just too much for me. I had to let go and I had to accept my limitations in what I actually could control in her life, which is nothing.

    Your son, like my daughter, may end up living on the street, go to jail, get hurt, or worse, on and on the scary thoughts will go............and there is nothing we can do. I am in your age bracket and since I let go of my daughter, my life is reflecting calm and peace and laughter once again. You deserve that, your husband and granddaughter deserve that too. And, soon, she will be off in her own life and you deserve to retire and enjoy your life NOW, not when you are 90 and your son is still stealing your life force from you.

    Get support to do this, it's very hard. Get into therapy, get into a group. talk more here, read books, pray, take long walks, appreciate nature and laugh more. For me, getting a lot of support was the answer, it so helped me to make sense of all of this and to make choices for ME. Our kids are in G-d's hands now, a far better place then ours. I'm sorry. I wish you peace and the knowledge that you're doing the right thing. (((HUGS)))