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

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

  1. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I do that too. lots of times I have to go back in my head or his texts to see what he actually said without me reading between the lines.
    Example- he told me he had to buy new work boots and he will be short for his car payment. What I read " will you make my car payment' I made the mistake of replying, "I'm not making your car payment" his reply, "wth i didn't ask you to." no he didn't but that's what i assume he wants. He knows I will feel bad, he needs the car to go to work. he is living paycheck to paycheck. Thank God I don't have your medication dilemma thrown in too!
    There are so many good ideas (for him) in this thread. I hope he will comply--at least a little.
    Why don't we ever turn the manipulation around on them? Ask. "How can you do this to me? You make me so sad, I can't sleep I worry so much. you are going to put me in an early grave." I know my son's answer, "So don't worry. I'm not your problem."
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Tired. My stomach tightened as I read this. All the thousands of miles away from you and your son I must be, and I felt it in my gut in the same way. These reactions of ours are visceral. We respond to gut punches. That is how we feel the words and actions of our sons.

    I am learning meditation. There has to be a way to detach from what in psychology would be stimulus-response. I have got to somehow divorce my responses from his stimulus. At present I react automatically.
    Last night before I slept I had the thought that if I could help him do this one thing it would be a world of difference for us both. I have gotten good ideas from this thread. If I could get him hooked up to some kind of nurse that deals with homeless in his area, that would be accountability and discipline for him. Just this one thing. And from that could come other things.

    I have a sense of focus I did not have before. It is not all those other things, it is just this one thing.
    I began to think about how I have been pushing a huge rock uphill (is that Plato? Sisyphus?) and it just falls down again, and I do the same thing, over and over again with him.

    He likes his lifestyle. He has NEVER been intrinsically motivated to do one thing I have pushed him to do. Not one thing. So who is creating the misery here? It is me. If I focus on this one thing, his health, it becomes potentially handleable. Except for two downsides.

    One. I realize that his lifestyle is absolutely intolerable to me. He chooses to be a marginal homeless person and he has been doing this for a long time, except for when I help him. And when he lives with us he still lives like a homeless person. And so this thing makes me realize that in the way we choose to live we are oil and water.

    Two. And the number two thing is even worse. If I can't get him to take seriously his health and to comply, that there is really not one thing I can do to help him. And this makes me very, very sad and frightened. It feels like a freight train coming at me.

    I am back to having to detach. Thank you very much.
  3. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    This was me for years. I finally have learned NOT TO OFFER WHAT THEY DO NOT EXPLICITLY ASK FOR, and not to respond to anything not there in black and white in their words. It is really hard, because my instinct is to jump into solve/rescue mode. But I've learned it's better to just sit with the discomfort on my end and let them solve their own problems. I try not to assume they are coming to me for solutions but just take their words at face value, as venting about their lives. Unless they directly ask, then I directly answer. But they actually don't ask much anymore. So: "I'm $100 short on rent this month and I don't know what I'm going to do." Me: "Oh, that's tough, I'm sure you'll figure it out." Maybe they are indeed fishing - they probably are - but I don't bite anymore. I continually have to stop myself from reading the subtext in their words.

    This is the hard part. Because in the end, it's not really a different equation than those of us dealing with kids engaged in substance abuse that is slowly killing them. He is putting his health at risk by failing to take a life-preserving action, while mine are putting their health at risk by repeatedly taking life-risking actions. But it still comes down to the same thing: they are adults making choices we have no control over. I hear you trying so hard to find a solution to the medication problem, and there are several solutions that will work if HE wants them to. Just as there are programs who could help C and S get clean if they wanted to. But in both cases, the actual effort has to come from them. And I think in both cases the answer may be the same: giving them options, helping them think through solutions, but accepting that the final decision really is up to them. You can't make him visit a pharmacy or clinic every day to get his medications any more than I can make mine comply with mental health care or substance abuse treatment.

    In my mind, reestablishing a relationship of trust is the most important thing here, even before worrying about an answer on the medication issue. Because until you have that, and until he is in a better place mentally, he is not going to comply with any medication solution you put in place long term. Trying to fix the medication first, without addressing the underlying issue causing him to be non-compliant, may be putting the cart before the horse. Maybe getting him back into therapy, or getting him to follow through on seeing a therapist together, is a necessary first step. It may take a couple months of groundwork before he's ready to face the health issues.

    This is exactly how I feel watching C and S and all the choices they make. Because their conditions, left untreated, are also going to be fatal. They are wrecking their bodies with alcohol and drugs. (I am not banking on C's sobriety yet, regardless of what he said a couple days ago - we have been here before.) They are engaging in all kinds of risky behaviors - S especially. I see all these potential futures written in their faces whenever I see them. Their uncle and two cousins on their dad's side have died of heroin overdoses over the last three years. As have many of their friends and acquaintances. They know where their path ultimately leads as well as I do. Getting them into some kind of treatment is every bit as urgent as any other medical problem. But I can't make it happen.
  4. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Sisyphus, as brought to life by Dante in The Divine Comedy. If you haven't read Albert Camus's essay The Myth of Sisyphus you should. It is one of my favorite pieces of philosophical writing.
  5. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Copa - I hope my words did not scare you too much or come across too insensitively here. I am not saying give up on getting him to treat his hepatitis. Just that other things may need to come first. Connection. Trust. Stability. I do not mean to say there is no hope. Only that the hope is in his hands, as it is for all of our kids, no matter what their combination of mental health, physical health, and addiction issues may be.
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  6. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    No. Elsi. I was not discouraged by your words. Encouraged. Hope is not something about the future. Is about the present. It is contained in the present moment. One choice, possible among all others. I so agree that the relationship is primary. It is the first, in terms of order, and it is the first in terms of importance. It is the groundwork, the foundation. I cannot help him put up walls or a roof until there is the foundation.
    I had no response to my texts yesterday and at the end of the sequence wrote: are you boycotting me? No. I left my phone in H's truck. I will call the doctor right now.
    I think this is wise advice. A therapist together. If he will do it. It would mean a big commitment for me, because the trip back and forth will take 11 hours. I would do it.

    Maybe he would be willing to come here, too. I wonder if that is a good or bad idea? I am no longer confident in my thinking. Which is sad. Thank you very much, Elsi. This was very helpful to me.
  7. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    What if you can come here and stay with us for TWO MONTHS (in the other house or in the separate suite in your house) while we work out parameters for a longer stay. If we cannot work out parameters in that time, you'll have to make other arrangements after that. All I ask during that two months is that you attend counseling with me once per week during that time to work on longer term expectations together, and see your doctor and take your medications. You might have to put the two-month term in writing for legal reasons, so there is a clear end date that won't require 30-day notice and messy legal evictions if it doesn't work out.

    But perhaps putting a time limit on it up front, and making it contingent attending joint counseling together, would allow you both to move forward and give you the security of knowing there is an end date if he is totally unwilling to step up for another chance here. It might give him the time he needs to stabilize and give both of you the time you need to reconnect and work on longer term plans while he is in a safe, stable spot.

    He does seem to be reaching out and at least giving lip service to the idea of taking care of his health. Which is a big step up from "F U" in my book, anyway.

    Just a thought.

    EDIT - I might wait to see if he follows through on the things he is promising now, calling his doctor and showing up for a first meeting where he is, before making this offer.
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  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This at once gives me hope and a panic attack.

    There is so much trauma for me associated with him in my space--even in the other house. I am able to distance myself from it by various defense mechanisms but when I do not have the defenses erected, I feel flooded by fear and dread. Which is very important to face and to know.

    I think as much as anything, I am like you Elsi. I want to protect the calm and safety I have in our home. While this is not as important as helping J to decide to protect himself, his health and his life, I am seeing that my life, my health, myself, and my relationship with M have status, have a standing here, too, and have to be factored in. We put the importance of US aside. This can't go on. And I can't resume it.

    Which is to say I am not ready for J back. I know this contradicts everything, but he has to take steps, which is what you are saying. He has to take steps to get back here.

    I want to keep my life. I do not want to give it up.

    I think there are ways to do this: That J work with mental health case management, for example. They could take some responsibility. We could have a family therapist here where I live and meet a couple of times a week. That J arrange some kind of volunteer placement. (He KNOWS everybody. He could work at the rescue mission, for example.) These were all "conditions" that he thwarted over time.

    This is M's position. That J has to do something. To choose to get back here. All of the other times, it went like this: J came back as he was. And what happened, every single time is that J stayed as he was. It was like trying to push the stone uphill. It never worked.

    I am hopeful now. Let's see if he calls the doctor. I think there is a fifty-fifty chance. And if he does not do so today, there is tomorrow. I know now he is not blowing me off. He wants me to be texting him. He is not spurning me.

    Thank you smithmom (and Elsi and Tired). That is what you were trying to coach me to do. To begin and to maintain a dialog and to keep suggesting.

    I see now that the therapy suggestion was not peripheral. It is central. Thank you very much.
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  9. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I would word it differently. You can make it seem like his choice

    "if it doesnt work after two months than you can decide to leave."

    Words can be everything.

    I do think that meeting and reconnecting, just you two, would be very helpful. But sadly you cant make him show up.
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  10. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I would just want to make sure that it is crystal clear that deciding to stay without setting and agreeing to long term parameters is not an option. He can't just decide to stay without meeting any expectations. Mine would take anything at all open ended and run with it - "But you said it was my choice! And I choose to stay here!"

    It doesn't sound like Copa is ready for even a limited time offer just yet, and I understand that. Perhaps something to keep in a back pocket depending on how these initial reconnection efforts go.
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you SWOT. I am most definitely NOT ready that he return even for Thanksgiving. Nor has he mentioned it. If Thanksgiving comes up and I have not mentioned this to M or to J, I will suggest that we go there or meet half way and eat in a restaurant and maybe go to a movie.
    I think this too, SWOT. Thank you.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is true. We posted at the same time, Elsi. Thank you.
    I hyperventilate just reading this. I am CRYSTAL CLEAR that I do not want him back here without his working toward it.
    We have tried every permutation, every variation of this. We have had structure. We have given him the lead and told him you decide what you want to make work and you put it in place. And we have tried every single variation in between. When there was the yoke, he bucked. When there was no yoke, no guidance, he did nothing. Except smoke marijuana.
    I guess my guts are rising up and saying "no".

    I am seeing we were not wrong. We insisted he take part in a conversation. Life is a conversation. It involves both a conversation with ourselves and a conversation with others. For very, very few people can life be a dictatorship. I am thinking dictators, prison inmates (before they are incarcerated) or people like Harvey Weinstein, on a temporary basis, can impose their unconditional desires upon others. But NOBODY except mothers and subjugated domestic partners, it seems, accepts the dominance and imposition of will and complete resistance of another person.

    I know I have been all over the map on this. It is not only that I am trying to find workable solutions, and to protect him, (and me); I am trying to build a self. Trying to define, erect and learn to maintain boundaries. And I do so with my beloved. This is the hardest thing, bar none, I have ever done.

    Thank you very much, Elsi, SWOT, all.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  13. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I agree that he has to take part. You can't make decisions for him and you don't want or need him to make them for you.
    I don't blame you one bit for not wanting him back in your space. It is so hard and they make it harder. I think if he came back you would be on edge every minute wondering if he is going to follow through.
    I am still praying he contacts doctor, his numbers are good and he follows through with therapy and maybe that can lead to a change?
    Scary part is that he may have to get rally sick to realize he wants to live and get better.

    Unfortunately even though we all wish it weren't true "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior"
    My favorite Maya Angelou Quote. "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."
  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is so true. I listen on the radio to Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher. He talks about his stroke, how he did not take his blood pressure medicine. This highly evolved man, did not pay attention until he was felled. Oh. How hard this is to be a mother.
    If the purpose of this forum could be distilled into a dozen words, they would be these. Except: as parents, as mothers we cannot believe them.

    If you think about it each of us is dealing with our own variation of disbelief vs belief. That is the struggle. Where do we come down? I think that is what I am trying to figure out on this thread. The parameters finally are clear to me. But where do I come down? I do not know. This is not a boyfriend. This is not a boss. This is my son. And I am his mother.
  15. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    It is so hard to watch their health and to watch them make these choices to live the way they do when they have options to live better.... when we give them options to live better and they dont take them. My son has Hep C and I have no idea if he is dealing with it at all... but he continues to drink which clearly is bad news for his liver..... and if he gets back into heroin that is a whole other bad thing. I just keep coming back to there is a very good chance that at this rate I will outlive him.... and there is nothing I can do about it. Really there isn’t. I have no control over the choices he makes. I cant control his life inlcuding his health choices.... and he is now doing things that may affect his liberty and I know that ending up in jail wont be good for his mental health.
    Copa.... I dont mean to chime in with my own worries here.... but I totally get your frustration and your worries about your son and the helplessness you feel in trying to help him when he wont do the things he needs to do to help himself. Really the main thing is to do what you can to keep yourself above water so that you dont go down with him.

  16. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I know..I know... I keep trying to tell myself to stand down. Let him fall. make his own choices. He has shown me more than 2x his disregard for any kind of rules. I know who he is but since he is still MY kid I still have hope and pray for a dawning and change in him. Heck I would even be happy with a little respect and a "please".
    I think of those famous quotes and think I should heed their advise, listen to their wise words. But I can't. And would they even follow their own advise if it was their child?
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My position still is that I have a responsibility as a parent, still, to parent. But on this forum we are all over the map on this, on how much we feel we can do it, whether we can do it effectively or how much our adult children allow it.

    But this position has gotten me into real trouble. Because I kept at it way too long and way too much for my own good. Except the truer thing is to say: I didn't do it so good. But there are parents here that do this way better than do I. Like TL. She stays connected but she does not allow herself to be consumed.

    We have been talking about Thanksgiving. I do not want my son to come here. I offered that M and I go close to where he is and we go out to eat. The last time we went to a restaurant, it was a Sizzler he was aggressive and demanding. M and I are both laid back except in the most egregious of situations and try to be solicitous and kind to restaurant staff. It is hard for us, this kind of behavior. But I do not want to spend the day with my son both homeless and alone.
  18. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    Therapy has been a lifesaver for us but the caveat is it has to be the right therapist. And that will be hard to do with him so far away. D went to two and a psychologist and I went to one and none of these helped. Then I found the right one and sometimes D goes alone, sometimes with me and occasionally husband and me. But we always have to remember in the end the therapy is for D, so sometimes therapist tells him things we think are cringe worthy but help cement the relationship of trust between the two of them. And it is BABY STEPS.
  19. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I wish mine would go to therapy with or without me. He thinks he knows it l and doesn't need that.
    Don't say that. You have done your best and that s all anyone can ask. remember hind sight is 20/20. If I knew then what I know now I would do things differently BUT I am sure I would still make mistakes. We never know the outcome until an action has taken place.
    It is SOOOOO hard with the holidays jumping on us. Mine says he isn't coming to Thanksgiving or Christmas. Oh well. Nothing I can do about that. We will have his sister her hubby and our other son here.
    For me the holidays are sad with it only being our nuclear family. If we were where I grew-up there would be all kinds of family for the holidays and I always hosted. I miss that.
    I hope you find a good solution for Thanksgiving.
  20. Smithmom

    Smithmom Active Member

    Relationships are negotiations. Otherwise its called master and slave.

    You want to find an incentive that will make him take his medication. Don't we all wish we could find an incentive to get them to behave the way we want? Of course, in most situations it's money. But when money doesn't work for a parent what else is there? Ever watch a tv show called Intervention?

    When the behavior puts their lives at risk as parents we get more desperate. But that doesn't mean that there's any better incentives. Its the same as it was without the threat of death. They have to want to change.

    Yes, i still see my kid's brain as a bulletin board. A mess of ideas and pics over the years. Some stuck, sadly most of the bad ones. But I keep throwing good ones at it hoping that maybe some day just one of the good ones will stick.