Am I steering my own, true course or heading for the rocks?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, Nov 11, 2018.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    On another mother's thread so as to not hijack it, SWOT suggested I start my own, new thread. And here it is. (I have copied what follows from another post.)

    Tomorrow I should see my son. We are meeting in a City maybe an hour from me, and two from where he has been homeless.

    It is four months since I have seen him. His living in the property I own had become intolerable for me. He invested nothing in making it work. I had to absorb all of the responsibility. I had to take all that he dished out. It was all of it, accommodating to him, to his interests, to what he wanted and needed. It was a dictatorship and I was the oppressed.

    I could not walk away from this reality, at the end. And I had to fight my way out of it. He resisted leaving. There were cops, multiple times. I came to experience him as somebody of whom I was afraid.

    But expelling him was not an answer for me. Oh. How I suffered. And him, homeless these four months.

    So. We are in conversation about how he could come back, with this outcome in no way certain. Me, defining what is my absolute bottom line. Me, trying to find ways to put the responsibility in him,(how does one do that?) in an ongoing way, so that it is not just empty words, momentary promises, he uses as keys to the kingdom, the comforts and the support I can provide.

    So I am trying to look at this as just this: the resuming of conversation between us. Only that. And that I will have to tolerate this--because maybe this is all that it can be, for now.

    I am beginning to be anxious. It is easier to text; less easy to talk; harder still to anticipate seeing him, the person he has become. Every month, every year, farther away from the child I raised. Disheveled. Haunted. Disorganized. Tangential. Stuck. Smoking. The smoking cigarettes bothers me a lot. He was always so health-conscious.

    How do I not bring into myself all of this in the form of pain, or denial? How can I let him be, let him be himself, without making it into a tragic story about me? It is hard. How do I stay in the present and hold hope? How to tolerate the pain and the love in the same moment, without escaping through anger or control or even conflict? How do I allow myself to be present and to feel?
  2. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Hi Copa :)

    I am glad you and J will be talking! Its a start!

    I have a question. Well, a few. Not easy ones for anyone to ponder!

    When J. Is living on your property, do you check on him a lot? Because if so I have a possible alternate way of dealing with him living so close to you, triggering your worst fears and traumas.

    Maybe if you just pretended he is a person unrelated to you who lives there, you can both have him nearby and not get triggered about his lifestyle. I have no idea if this would work for you but maybe low contact even though he is close is best?? You will know he is safe but not have to get triggered over his hygiene, his habits, his other quirks that make you so upset that you ask him to leave, which causes more angst.

    Copa I really think sadly that this is lose,/lose with a bit of a win if he is safe.

    The.losses are that if he is out in in the streets you will suffer maybe more than him. I know you do not wish to see him become a street person. It is killing your heart.

    So thats a loss if he stays on the streets.

    If he lives on your property, making promises, he may not do what he promises. You are used to this. Every time you check up on him to make sure he is holding up his end of the bargain, if he doesnt there goes that bullet to your heart again when you ask him to leave then mourn him.

    Could it work to just let him be safe and ignore how he lives? For your sanity? Dont visit or check inside?

    I do not know if you can do it or if I could do it. I just feel you (,not J or M but YOU) seem better off when he is housed, even when he isnt doing well. He may never do well. Are you okay with him on the streets or more okay with him.not doing well but having a roof? Think of YOU.

    That is my main concern. You.

    This is hard to to think over, I am sure. It is a split between what you think may be right and what your loving Mother heart can stand. What is easier for you?

    Neither is probably easy. Neither is right or wrong.

    Just my thoughts with your welfare foremost in my mind.

    Lots and lots of hugs.
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  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I get what you are saying, SWOT. It is steering a course between the rocks that are on one side, and the rocks on the other, which is my own, true course. Why? Because there is not one right answer and one wrong one. There is just the better one, which has bad and good parts. Which is kind of like real life.
    No. I don't. The issue here is M. He comes to me with tales. He puts me in the middle.

    M: This is wrong. He is doing this. The xx is trashed. And (this is M talking): I am sick and tired of fixing the same thing over and over again because he carelessly destroys it, or kicks it, or makes xx filthy. Or that filthy. I can't stand doing the same work 10x.

    The quirk that got me so upset I made him leave was his inability to budget or to want to budget and his willingness or sense of responsibility to pay rent. It was not a quirk. It was the awareness that I was enabling him to believe that he did not have to take responsibility or to seek anybody to help him structure his life in a way that worked.

    However painful were the quirks, it was what I saw in myself, that was intolerable. That I needed to hold the line, to insist upon his self-responsibility, a bottom line.

    I think the key here is my communication with M and structuring this in such a way that M is not in the middle, and does not insert himself there. How to do this, I am unclear.
    That is an idea. I had brought up to M some time ago that I find a housekeeper to help M. And M would not hear of it. He didn't want anybody else involved and he insisted that J do what he needed to do. But as you know our life as a threesome had a lot of conflict, and the cost to me and to J in particular is so high.

    I have to take control of this and have it be between J and myself.

    Even if I were to minimize contact, so as to not react to his quirks, to his lifestyle, there are still the things that need to happen: the liver doctor and treatment, therapy, money management and paying some sort of rent, even if it is to pay for therapy, or saved. Because if I do not insist upon this I am most definitely enabling. And this is what I do not want to do. Because I am digging my own grave with that. To the extent that J does not learn to handle his life while I am alive, he will be in difficult straits when I die, and this scares me the most.

    Thank you SWOT.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  4. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

  5. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Copa I think you need to put your foot down with M.

    "I am taking over with J. I am sorry you dont like it, but I am getting a housekeeper and others to fix broken things in the house. I need to be in charge by myself of my relationship with my son. Yes, I let you become involved before but that wont work anymore. I love you but this has to be between me and J. I hope I have your understanding but if not, I still have to do this."

    M. will hate it and argue and do what you so dislike...argue over it. I know you hate conflict. (Secretly, conflict scares me to death...but I stand up when I have to, shaking inside) But again in my opinion M has too much control over your relationship with J. I would never allow this to happen with a boyfriend and my own kids if the man had not been in my child's life forever. He causes a lot of problems between you two. Actually it is up to you to set a boundary with M and only if you want to. But in my opinion he has no right to make you choose. I am not you...I am able to be firm when I have to. I have not paid any attention to my Hub or my other kids to stop talking to Bart. I wont let them tell me to cut off my son. And they know it so they dont really bother me about it.

    This is totally your choice and we all support any decision you make. You know that.

    Lots and lots and lots of prayers and love that all goes well.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you SWOT for your support.

    M has never pushed to separate me from my son. Nor has he ever made me choose. If anything, he has pushed me to try harder, do more, bring J home. M is one to take on responsibility not to run from it. And he sees parenting as hands on. He believes it is his and my responsibility to insist that J step up. Because I was lost and unable to cope I went along with this program. It is this program that J has resisted and what has made me sick. It has only empowered the worst in J, to resist, lie, to manipulate and to dissemble. And has brought forth the opposite result to what I had sought. He never bought into it. J has always felt he knew best how to live his life. He does not second guess himself about the big things. Which I guess is a good thing.

    And M does have the the idea that suffering leads to change, which has not proven to be the case, with my son who has not learned from suffering. He has only dug in with the same behaviors. And M believes it is because J has not suffered enough. So there is that. I cannot continue further down that path.

    Except if I have to. J may decide he does not want to play ball at all. He may not re-establish liver treatment. He may not accept the neuro-psychiatric exam. He may not want to do any therapy. Then what do I do? I am pretty sure that he will agree to the money stuff. But I am not sure he will do the treatment. These have been sticking points for a long time.

    M is on-board with this process. I think with him, the only issue will be the property. And the fact he feels responsible. But if I get a property manager, for example, and/or a handyman, M could be out of this for the most part. The only thing would be is M uses the downstairs garage areas as a workshop. I will not kick M out of there. Some of this J has to deal with.

    But you are right. I have to set this up from the onset in a way to minimize conflict between all three of us. I am thinking about whether to look for a family therapist to work with J and I.

    IF J WILL NOT DO THE MINIMUM, I am not sure what I will do. Because that will be asking me to walk the plank with him. I will not hold his hand walking down the plank, while he is a space I control. But I will help him connect with resources and services to set himself up independently which would be a better outcome, I think. But J can't anymore have it both ways, where he sets the terms, and has not responsibility to meet any at all.

    And I cannot anymore rely on M to define and control the situation. It is not his fault. I have permitted this by unwillingness or inability to do it myself. I can't do it anymore. I know that. Thank you SWOT.
  7. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    No problema Copa. I dont know if I am helping. Just thinking outside the box.

    I disagree strongly with M on very strict parenting of a 30 year old. To me you cant do it. That wont work. He is way too old to listen. And you are right that J does not get better on the streets. He gets worse. Some people do the opposite of becoming motivated when support is pulled. Some give up. J is not responding to M's philosophy.

    I dont have answers, only observations.

    You are very right that J cant have everything he wants though.
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    SWOT. This hurts. I feel you are judging me. I did the best I could at the time. When I knew to do better, I did.

    I did not get to this point from weakness and neglect or indifference. I got here because whatever I tried did not work, and I did not know better, at the time. M has only tried to help me and help J. It was not a desire to control on his part. Everybody has a personality. He has his. What I cop to is not bearing the full responsibility and feeling overcome by the burden. I willingly shared it. But I thought it might work.

    M says something very wise. He says: there is no school for parents. And for each child, there is no guidebook. Because we have to start again because that child is new to us.

    We have done some things right. All three of us. I have. Joseph has. M has. There has been no criminality that I know of. Never. There have been no hard drugs. Joseph is a good, kind person. I am. M is. We are still at it, trying. We are in communication. We are intact. We are together. There is love. I believe J is learning. I am learning. I am stepping up. I am stronger.

    I could not start out where you were, because I am me, not you. I start where I am, as do you.

    Thank you for your support SWOT.
  9. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I was just on another thread. This mother expressed exactly how it feels to be me. All of it.

    How I flail and try to solve, to senselessly save. And what is the result:
    I cannot scapegoat M for this. He has only stood by me.

    I did not know my own voice. I could not feel my own wants. I was unable to identify let alone enforce boundaries that I needed. I looked to and relied upon M. He does not bear responsibility here.

    I have to remind myself, again and again, that we are not in the worst spot here. We are recovering. We have made some good choices. That house was a good choice. It could give us neutral ground if we are able to structure it right; in the way that you have been advocating. Thank you.
  10. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    Now I feel really bad. I am very very very sorry. I did not mean to be judging! Me and my big mouth.

    I truly just want the best for all of you and I know for sure that you are all good people in a difficult situation.

    I am sorry again. And again. And again.
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    SWOT. I am trying to clarify the situation here. For me. It was my decision not M's each time, that J leave. If M had had the power of deciding he would probably not have insisted J leave. Or maybe he would have, I am not sure. But he did not have deciding power. I did.

    M has done almost all of the work in all three of the properties. Properties he will receive no benefit from. All of them will go to J. It would not have been fair to let J destroy M's work. It was not fair that J not work to the extent he could, even though for well more than a year we did not ask him to, because it was too stressful for M. J bears 80 percent of the responsibility. If he cannot or will not accept any responsibility he needs to live in a supportive and protected situation like does Sonic, and I will help him secure that. But if he does not want to accept any rules he cannot come home. All M wanted was that J accept some rules and take some responsibility.

    It is not that I would choose M if J does not want to step up, but if I choose to maintain my relationship with M, it is the natural thing. It is not an abandonment of J. He knows this, although I wonder too if on some level what he feels is loss and triangulation. But part of this is real life. Just as Elsi chooses R, and protects her, their life together, and their space, I will do the same.

    This has been a useful thread. Because it is bringing me to a place I had not anticipated. I will choose M. Because J must choose himself.

    Thank you for your support SWOT.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I know how much you care SWOT. And I am grateful. Love.
  13. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I understand now and agree that you must protect your relationship with M. He has been there for you and it is admirable that he take on properties that will never be his. That says a lot about his caring of you and J and his strong work ethic.

    In my fairytail i want you to be able to have a peaceful relationship with your son and live happily ever after. But....reality isnt fairytails and M matters a lot here. And J does need to do his part. And you are doing all you can which is slso admirable.
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    M has only been motivated to help J and I.

    But he has a strong voice and he is excellent at boundaries, capacities that for me are growing edges.

    M wants me to step up and to take control. He does not want to dominate. He wants a partner. As I step up and grow stronger, he grows softer and more emotionally available. His anger grows less, not more. He has not wanted to either step into or dominate my relationship with J.

    He wants a family. While he loves his children and seeks as much contact as they allow, he sees his family as us.

    Like you, I believe that fairytales are fantasies. I want real life. I believe that we can work this out, but it is a delicate balance. The solutions, I think are in J, not in me. If I can hold that in my head, that will serve me.

    You said SWOT, a few days ago, that you felt this could be a turning point. I think it could be too. I think one answer is for me to stay in the present, in myself. This has always been hard, but I am growing. Thank you very much.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I took this quote off of feeling's last post on her thread.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2018
  16. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    Although that is great to aspire to, real life doesn't always work like that. Older ds absolutely, rose to any and all expectations, younger ds, not so much. If I've learned anything from being on this forum, high expectations don't always equal growth in our CD kids. Maybe one day, maybe not. We can only decide how much to give, and how much we can take. Younger ds is not able to follow through even though he is an incredibly intelligent person. I think you need to make a choice of what YOU can actually deal with. Right now I have little say because I don't want him homeless at such a young age. I don't know what the future me will decide.
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member


    The way you put this is wise. It locates the result in us. This is something I can control...what I give...and what I take.

    The thing is in my son's case he has an illness...I guess that is my real bottom line...I need him to be alive, and to take care of his health. But I do not stop there. It cannot be enough to be alive. He needs to step up. And this is where it gets messy. Because I cannot control that.
  18. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Sorry I don't know all the background here.

    Is J needing only housing from you? I'm talking about what he absolutely needs from you. Then what does he want from you? Flip it around. What do you absolutely need from him? Want list we all know. I'd focus on those need lists and forget the rest. Can you narrow down those need lists to just a couple of things each? Then maybe you have a place to start and put all the rest aside. I say this because the above posts bring in so many, many things you want, or M wants, from him. And M has lists of what he needs and wants from both J and you. Isn't bringing M's lists into this negotiation making it unbearably complex? Sorry to be so analytical, but I am what I am. LOL.

    Hypothetically, if the only thing on J's list is housing, could you go back to the drawing board with a place for him to sleep? Present him with 3 or options that are acceptable to you. Rehab obviously. Homeless shelter.

    I would also urge you to not put too much pressure on this. It may not go well. He may have 3 or 4 acceptable housing options that are not at all acceptable to you. You need to be strong.

    Don't know how you feel about this... But this really is about you and J. It might be better if the first cup of coffee was just you and J. Again, keep the stress low. More people, more stress. First about love. Later about logistics and future.
  19. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    You need him to be alive.

    Sounds like your need list should be one item.

    Question: is that on J's need list?

    You really can't control if he lives. That's up to him.
  20. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    As I think about it, expectations are boundaries. They effect both giving and taking.

    I think I cannot know anything until J and I began to talk.
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