Drawing boundaries and not being ruled by sadness and guilt

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Kris22, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. Kris22

    Kris22 New Member

    Hi everyone,

    My name is Kristi and I have an adult son who was born a brilliant and beautiful young man and yet in his teenage years (divorce/unkind father/me trying to sit ice my marriage/early and undiagnosed signs of major depression) he started using drugs and over the last 10 years he’s been convicted of crimes, jailed, put in a mental hospital, lived in his car, been homeless, and so on. Now, out of jail and on probation, he is just a step above homelessness and living in a working man’s shelter trying to keep a job (which he does for a while and then his mental condition proves too difficult for
    Him to work in a restaurant and he gets fired) and pay his court fees and make enough money to survive. His dad has cut off all ties with him. I am single and have several other children who I support in various ways depending on age and what not and I am really distraught over my relationship with him. I love him dearly but I can’t keep giving him money and seeing h struggle. I have of course made mistakes over the years because I was raising him and there have been times when I to have cut him off but now I am the only one in his life as his siblings will not speak to him and they are just tired of the stress and pressure they have experienced and they’ve seen their dad and I experience over the years and trying to help their oldest brother. The holidays are always a very difficult time for me as I think about him alone and with no one in his life other than me and the pressure and guilt and sadness become so overwhelming that I know it is not good for my health. My other children will not be a part of any holidays if he is around as he is angry at times, narcissistic, just downright almost so far out of his mind that nothing he says makes sense and strange and foreign to them. To be quite honest he feels strange and foreign to me too even though I see him once or twice a month. He doesn’t take any of my advice to look for employment in areas where he would not have to deal with the public as much and can just put in his headphones and work but rather he chooses to work at restaurants where the pressure is too great end it ends the same way every time and then he has no money and is asking for help. He does not waste his money but he does have a lot of crazy court fees and he does pay $10 a day to stay in his residence and cell phone and a bus pass and food. I just find myself as we approach this holiday season once again dreading having to lie or tell him that we’re not celebrating as a family because no one wants him around and I must admit that I do enjoy the holidays without him. I just wish that I had my old son back. The drug usage, although he has been clean for two years, and the drugs prescribed by doctors while he was in the mental health hospital have just changed him. I lost my son along time ago and sometimes I see glimpses of him and they make me smile But they also crushed my heart. I found this forum today desperately searching for help and even just reading all of your posts I feel comforted in knowing that I’m not alone. I would love to know how any of you handle the holidays and how you draw boundaries that protect you and don’t completely rule your adult child out of your life. Sorry for the long post but it is my first and I’m desperately seeking support. Thank you!
     
  2. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Kris22
    Welcome to the forum. I am so sorry for your aching Mommas heart and what you have been through and are going through. It is a hard road to travel. You have come to a place where folks understand the grief of it. I have two off the rails adult children. It has been a long time dealing with the many phases of grieving over their choices, the loss felt, the brief glimpses of them as youngsters and wishing things were different. It got to the point where my only chance of having a life was to give them over to my higher power. I had come to realize after many years in the midst of their train wrecks, that I did not have the magic potion to fix them. I get through the holidays with lots of prayer, exercise and focus on living my best life. It is what we wish for our kids, that they would learn self care and self love. Who better to show them than us? Living in guilt and sadness does nothing to help them, and ruins our lives. It is a process to set boundaries and make healthy decisions. Therapy helped me as well as writing here. It has become a sort of journal that speaks back. Lots of folks here have traveled this journey and have much to share. Some are at different points along the way. Please know you are not alone. Holidays can bring out some very big feelings.
    I have three well adult children who I focus on. It has been years of trying to help my waywards when all along I had loving children who deserved my attention too. Finding our balance takes time and understanding that some things we just can’t fix. The only person you can control is yourself. Learning strategies to control your reactions, to calm the ever swirling emotions, to step back from the rabbit hole. That’s key in surviving the chaos of it. You have come to a good place to start.
    There is a good article on detachment in the PE forum. I prefer the word disentanglement. I view addiction and mental illness as a web that can tie us up from living our own potential. That is a loss in of itself.
    More will come along shortly. I’m sure many of us are busy preparing for tomorrow’s festivities.
    I hope you stick around and keep sharing. It has really helped me in my journey to write out my feelings and get feedback and reassurance. It helps to write to others in a similar situation, I find that I am talking to myself as well, finding ways to unwrap the many sticky layers that can keep us stuck in a rut. There is hope for you and your son. The end of the story is not yet written. Drawing boundaries is a good place to start.
    Welcome.
    Take good care of yourself dear, it is a hard journey we are all on.
    (((Hugs)))
    New Leaf
     
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  3. Kris22

    Kris22 New Member

    Oh my goodness New Leaf! You have just made my day and in your words I feel your heart and I thank you for sharing with me from the bottom of mine.
     
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  4. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    I can't compete with New Leaf's eloquence, but I echo that we can get so tied up in the chaos of our sick loved one that we can almost forget about our other loved ones. I was guilty of that and I am trying to make it up to them.

    My daughter is on the brink of homelessness. At one time I would have rescued her from that to the detriment of the rest of us and it didn't help her either. She has to want to help herself. I can't fix her. I have always tried harder to help her than she tried to help herself. That doesn't work.

    We are having holidays without Kay. It will make things peaceful. I wish it could be different but until/unless Kay changes a lot she can not join us and right now she doesn't want to. We cut out the money supply so she is furious. She says that means we don't love her. She is 33 with a useless husband and a child whom we are close to rescuing. It's horrible.

    If you have a higher power, maybe give your son to God. If he abuses or once abused drugs then he is an addict. There is help foryou. Al Anon and Narcotics Anonamyous have both really helped myself and my husband. So has a private therapist.

    I send prayers and hope you can start to see that you are not able to control anyone but yourself. Have a nice holiday.
     
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  5. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Kris22, in the years of disentangling from my twos choices, I have reflected on my sadness and guilt. It began to feel like love, that I should remain in despair over my twos lifestyles. Many times I have read an anguished parents reasoning that it was impossible to find joy while their adult child was out there floundering. It is aptly called FOG. Fear. Obligation. Guilt. In this fog, we are trapped in the misery and chaos that comes with having wayward children. We slip and slide with their downward spiraling, feeling the backlash of their decisions, buying in to their claims that we are the cause of their bad choices. Addiction and mental illness would suck us into this dark hellish void, causing us to believe that we should suffer along with our children, that we should sacrifice ourselves, our happiness.
    Many times, I did just that, falling into depression over the chaos, only to find my two skipping off to the sunset of their next high, then the next calamity. It was an endless horrific rollercoaster ride that I had strapped myself into. With the help of this forum and focusing on my minor son, (who was literally waiting in the wings for my attention) I decided to get off the roller coaster. I learned through time and experience that no matter what my response or reaction was, my two were going to do whatever the heck they wanted to do. I stopped throwing myself under their bus, stopped vexing and worrying, stopped making their lives my main focus. Because there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop their madness. I did not give up on them, on hope, I gave in to the notion that I could stop their train wrecks. That I was somehow responsible for their choices.
    They are adults and will do as they please.I will not allow their addiction and drug use to take my life. That is unacceptable. I learned from my well children, who stood up for themselves and said enough. “When they honestly want help to change and show it through action, we will be there for them.”
    That’s not selfish, that’s healthy.
    Our downhill struggle with sadness and grief is not love. It is entanglement with the disease. Love is showing our kids through action what we want most for them. We want them to take care of themselves, to make healthy choices, to love themselves enough to say no. No drugs, no chaos, no downward spiraling. Love says no. It begins with us realizing that we need to lead the way in making healthy choices for ourselves, pulling up and out of the rabbit hole, setting boundaries and practicing self love. That is the greatest gift we can give ourselves as well as all of our children!
    (((Hugs)))
    Leafy
     
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  6. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    That is perfect.
     
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  7. WiseChoices

    WiseChoices Active Member

    Welcome , Kris. I know this is a difficult walk. In AA we say that recovery is for those who want it not for those who need it. The addict has to come to the end of themselves. Hit bottom. It is excruciating to watch someone go through that. Which is why the best thing we can do for ourselves is to detach with love. Marcus Aurelius said:" Stop caring what others think. Stop caring what others feel. Stop caring what others do".

    There is nothing we can do for an addict until they are ready. It is a tough truth to accept.

    What we can do is to control ourselves, be kind to ourselves , take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In that, we live by example. We become a role model for anyone who cares to look. We do it for us.
     
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  8. louise2350

    louise2350 Member

    New Leaf: You should be a writer. You explained everything I had felt and gone through with my middle daughter while she was in her teens and even beyond the teen years.

    Kris, I had felt everything you feel as a mother with my middle daughter who now has no contact with me. In this daughter's years of living with me and my husband, she would take off during holidays to get high. I reacted badly to this as I didn't know any better. My two other children suffered for this and I regret how I reacted. Had I known better, I would've reacted differently. This same daughter married a man with his own set of problems and who can't keep a job. So, I do think my daughter is supporting them along with her young child. I'm sure she does resent him for his irresponsibility of taking care of his family, but I don't think she'll leave him. One thing this daughter did right, was go back to school and receive some degree to make her be able to get a good job. She still drinks and that clouds her thinking and judgment . I hope things get better for you, Kris, and you get some peace in all of this.
     
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  9. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Active Member

    Welcome to our little corner of the world kris. I have a 37 year old son with mental illness and drugs. He is currently in jail for non payment of child support. I also have 2 successful sons both younger. It is hard to worry about our troubled kids on the holidays and exclude them from family activities. My 2 younger will not come if older does of course this year that was not a problem. Each of us here deals with our troubled adults at there own pace . you have been given excellent advice by those who have already replied. Our loved ones have chosen a rough path and they need to figure out how to change that. We have all made extreme sacrifices to try and help but have reached the point where we realized it can't go on for either us or them. We have to take our lives back which often means reconnecting with others in our families and knowing that it is ok. When our troubled adults decide to put their lives in order we can offer prayers and words of encouragement but still hold on to our own lives and our own mental health. We all slip up on occasion and thats ok too. we have to do what we feel is right and what gives us peace. It does get a little easier as time goes on and we let go of guilt as far as what we can do and what we should or shouldn't do. Please stay with us.
     
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  10. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Welcome Kris

    For myself I have two adult sons that have been homeless off and on for a few years. I have enabled them their whole lives and by the grace of God have been able to see that this was not going to change them or help them achieve the stable, safe life I always hoped for them.
    Like many here I paid rent, bills, food, bought cars etc. alway thinking that this next thing they needed was going to seal the deal and they’d finally be able to function in society and take cares of themselves once and for all.

    I am so thankful I woke up from “my dream”. It still hurts because for various reasons I have chosen to stay detached with love from them right now. I know I still have to get stronger in order to be around them. I am too weak still and know that my years and years of enabling are my own problem. I am not quite there yet after all it took me a long time to get this way so I have to remember I’m not going to be healed over night. This enabling stuff starts to become part of our DNA I feel. So I continue prayer, therapy, this forum, Al anon and good books to help grow into a stronger well-balanced person.

    I try to get through the holidays by thinking things might change for them too someday and that we may share happy times again someday. I try to not write the ending of the story.

    Sending prayers
     
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  11. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Disentanglement is the perfect word! thank you
     
  12. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Well said, same here.
     
  13. Blindsided

    Blindsided Face the Sun

    Welcome Kris. I cant add much more than what others here have said. I have found great strength here and you will too. I have read many books that got me to the point I could reach out instead of drowning myself in guilt for no reason. They are in my signature line. I need to add the latest, Radical Acceptance. It all helps.

    Like most of us, I can see how I am making strides in my responses to others. There is comfort we give each other that noone else can provide, at least for me.

    My Difficult Child daughter is 41, an alcoholic, living probably in Vegas somewhere. She knows we are here for her when and if she gets the help she needs and shows she wants to be a contributing member of society. But, my once sweet, loving, capable child chooses not to take that path.

    There is peace in letting go of something we can't change. Personally, I turn my Difficult Child over to God.

    Love and light to you.
     
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  14. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    Kris, others' words are wiser than mine. I know for sure reading and posting here will make you feel less alone, and when needed will give you strength to hold difficult boundaries. The holidays have been a difficult time for me with both of my older difficult adult children who are now in their 30's. My daughter estranged herself and my grandchildren from me. I worry about them and miss being able to offer them so many holiday traditions, but I still choose to do those traditions, such as cutting down a tree, decorating the house, baking, etc. I do these things for me, as well as for my husband, friends, and youngest adult child.

    My narcissistic DS bemoans not having family and blames me for his problems. He has been an unpredictable guest and most of the family - including extended - is wary of him. Because of that I don't invite him to our home. I choose to meet him at a restaurant. I know he resents me for that, but he has earned his reputation, and others, including me and mine, need to feel safe and not worried about his possible anger. I feel sad and guilty, but that's my dysfunction because his behavior has created his circumstances.

    Even if your son has been clean for two years, he can still have an addict's thinking. Putting your needs and taking care of yourself are not selfish. I can hear how much you love and care about all your children. My thoughts are with you.
     
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  15. ChickPea

    ChickPea Active Member

    Welcome!

    I have a daughter that I've shared similar experiences with, and then other well children. So much has been said, but I wanted to welcome you here.

    This is great.
     
  16. JMom

    JMom Active Member

    Kris22,

    Welcome, I'm glad you're here. Holidays really pull on our heart strings! It's cold, its supposed to be special and family oriented, but unfortunately for all of us, it can be cruel.

    My son, who was 20 and addicted chose homelessness over sobriety and chose it on Christmas eve 2016. It was really tough. What helped me the most was coming here, posting my story and receiving love, acceptance and kindness.

    For the first year, I included him in the holiday dinners but it turned out terribly. The second year, I started untangling and gave myself a gift. I just called him and said that I needed to take care of myself. I told him that I needed a week or two to myself, without contact, and that I would reach out after New Years.

    He respected my wishes and I delivered his gifts to his camp new years day. It was really tough, but it allowed me to breathe.

    I hope your holiday went well. How did it turn out? It is possible to detach with love. I just had an open conversation with my Difficult Child and told him I loved him more than anything but needed to focus on my health. It was the first step in self care. My prayer for you is to have a guilt free holiday and enjoy your children, albeit separately.
    Jmom
     
  17. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    Kris,
    I want to throw in my "welcome" with the rest. I can hear your hurt and sorrow coming through so clearly. It is something we all know very, very well. The words "I am sorry" seem to inadequate, but I am sorry for your hurting Mom's heart.
    Yep. Same here. We have an adopted, biracial son who turns 30 in a few weeks. He lives in Colorado. He is most likely Bipolar, although he won't admit that he has a problem and seek help. He is now using marijuana and alcohol to medicate himself. But he also is very angry and most of the time is very verbally profane and assaultive. It doesn't matter what we have done or what we do, he blames us for what's wrong with his life.

    I've only been on this forum for just over a year, but it has been a lifeline for me. Just knowing that we're not alone; that there are other loving, good parents out there who are also experiencing some of the same behaviors from their child (or children) has been such a help so I'm glad you found us.

    The holidays are hard. It's been three years since our son was with us for Christmas. We invited him to fly out and be with us this year. He reacted with anger and another verbal rant. So that's that. I try to focus on self-care (exercise, healthy eating), doing things that I enjoy during this season such as decorating, baking, etc., and really clinging even closer to God. When I think of our son being hungry, cold, lonely, it's like my heart is being pulled out of my chest, so I remind myself that he can leave his situation any time he chooses as we have told him that we are willing to have him come (although frankly, we're probably out of our minds offering that because he has been verbally threatening to us). I remind myself that being miserable, depressed, and anxious does NOTHING to help him, and only makes my life miserable and puts my mental and physical health at risk. It's a process. That's all I can say. Be gentle with yourself, take care of yourself, and constantly tell yourself the truth: You were a good parent; you did your very best with what you knew and what resources you had at the time. He is an adult, who can and must make his own choices. Allowing yourself to be caught up over and over in his drama and chaos will not help him.

    Leafy, your words are so eloquent and so "spot on." I agree: You should be a writer. I'm going to copy and paste some of your posts because they help me understand the "why's" of how I feel and think and they inspire me to continue the process of disentangling and becoming a non-enabler, non-rescuer. Thank you.
     
  18. Kris22

    Kris22 New Member

    Hi my new friends and fellow wonderful mamas! I must say that never in all the years of dealing with my son and his issues did I imagine that I would find an amazing group like this and I am
    Overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️