Just help me understand

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by PennyFromTheBlock, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. PennyFromTheBlock

    PennyFromTheBlock Active Member

    I've been a part of this group off and on for about 4 years. You guys have helped me more than I could ever say-

    Things even out between myself and my son - and I walk away from the encouragement and help for two reasons:

    1. I believe there are others who need it more than me, and why continue or,
    2. I am embarrassed by my own weaknesses sometimes when it comes to him

    My son has a 3 year old that I ADORE. I try to maintain some semblance of a relationship with my son because of my grandbaby. He isn't with the baby's mom anymore- but I try to always 'keep the peace' and do what I can to ensure the environment my gbaby is in is a happy one.

    My son continues to do the most- make poor decisions, gets a good job and loses it due to his MOUTH, bounces from a girlfriends house and then to his sisters house (not me, he knows I'm done with THAT). My daughter is an adult and can tell him no- but she's not there yet. She's unhappy and wants him out- but she's just not there yet.

    If he weren't my son, I'd have zero to do with him. He has a mental issue that he won't get help for. He's 25 and has access to health insurance (through me). I'm so overwhelmed tonight- I've cried and cried and know logically that I can't 'fix' this.

    I've asked before (and logically I know the answer) but where the hell did I screw up? I enabled him, that I do know. But somehow I feel like he is who he is because of me. I saw a meme on social media that basically says if you want your kid to be a kind and good human, YOU have to be a kind and good human. I felt like I was. I never did drugs, never stole, don't lie, work hard, etc etc.

    I just can't shake it.
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Penny I remember you. I am glad you are back. I have been posting over three years. I post almost every day, usually a number of posts. Only in the past month and a half have I "gotten it" to the extent that I can act in my own behalf, and indirectly in behalf of my son. And still, even now, I am off and on drowning in heartbreak.
    I tell you this because it IS NOT YOU. This is hard.

    Today. I was thinking today about a woman I worked with years ago, a medical doctor. An extremely capable and wonderful person. A very devout woman. Her husband was a physician too. They had one child. And they adored him. As an adult he became involved in sex addictions which were absolutely contrary to the belief system of his parents. He betrayed his parents financially. We would speak, she and I, about her heartbreak. Once she confessed she had wanted to shoot herself with the shotgun she had.

    She did not blame herself. But she was furious at her son, and while she did not disown him, she disinherited him. She was able to work through her heartbreak but her heart was broken nonetheless.

    I tell you this because we as single parents, tend to take the fall ourselves. But there are millions and millions of two parent families whose kids go off the deep end. It happens. There are so many variables involved now, in our times. Actually, this was always the case. I read the bible. I am struck by how much trouble people have with their kids, and how so many children in the children in the bible veer off course, and create their own stories. Now people differ about how they view the bible. But my point here is this is the human condition.

    Attacking yourself, ourselves never, ever helps. It only makes things worse. We cannot afford to do that.

    What I suggest is to begin posting regularly and work this through. It is not about one mother needing more than the other. We are all of us in this together supporting each other. I get more help posting on other people's threads than I do asking for advice. I get clarity about myself, and I find my voice. This takes time. There is no other way that I have found to do this. There are other ways. But this is what has worked for me.

    Take care and keep posting.

    PS We have no control and no responsibility in another adult's life except to provide some kinds of support (encouragement, love and guidance, etc.) if they want it and they are using it to help themselves.
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  3. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Penny and welcome back. So sorry for your troubles (still) with your son.
    Oh my has it been three years? How time flys. It has been about three years since I came to cd and I remember your struggles with your son.
    I am glad you have set boundaries for yourself, and your son knows this. Your daughter will get there when she is ready.
    I am so sorry Penny, for your sadness and frustration. How I know the pain. I think it is important to recognize it and allow it to flow.
    Being a kind and good human certainly helps to guide our children in the right direction, but, it doesn’t mean they will stay on the path. There are so many other influences out there. They grow up and make choices, that can be exacerbated by mental challenges, self medication, addiction, you name it.
    I think we all go back and roll those tapes, wondering where things went wrong. My two have actually screamed at me that it is all of my fault. I would get mad, then sad, then fall into the fog again. Was I a perfect Mom? Heck no. But, I tried my best.I can find instances where I wish I had done this, or that, but the truth is, we all make mistakes. I have five kids, two off the rails. My other kids just shake their heads at the choices of their siblings. I have to take my cue from them. My two would do okay for a bit, then fall into the deep end. They had chance after chance to choose better, but didn’t. I still have hope that one day they will tire of the consequences and choose better, but I have no expectations.
    At times it is hard to go through the motions of my own life, with the reality of having two daughters off the rails. I find respite here, posting and like Copa, find that in my response to others, I am talking to myself. Urging myself to carry on to try my best to live well. It takes more effort some days than others. What keeps me going is prayer and believing that the best chance my two have is if I build my own strength and determination to forge on. Some days it is one breath at a time.
    I am glad to see you back, but sorry for your need to be here. Please don’t feel you are taking time away from others in need, or embarrassed by your “weakness” when it comes to your son. These are our children, who we raised with love and hopes for a good life. It is a difficult road for us to travel when their lives are so complicated, especially when there are grandchildren involved.
    I am so sorry for your aching mommas heart.
    Be kind to yourself, Penny. You didn’t cause this, can’t control it or fix it. That in itself is a grief that we have to deal with.
    You are not alone.
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  4. bluebell

    bluebell Active Member

    I've been here on and off for about the same amount of time. My son is almost 22. I am just now really detaching from him. He was so young and so mentally ill I just couldn't let him go and he couldn't let us go. But the behaviors are the same and I see no maturity. He refuses help and when I think what I was doing for myself at his age, I just can't excuse it anymore. He treats us so horribly and there is no excuse for that anymore. He is a grown man.
    I too struggle with the memes on FB about parenting. I would like to see what they would have done with my son. You have a daughter doing well. So do I. That should give us the strength to know these memes are based in fear and judgement, not truth.
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  5. RN0441

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


    It's not you. We all think it's something WE did. We have two older sons that both went through the divorce of their parents (both hubby and I were married before) and they NEVER acted out like this or got "addicted" to anything. They are both awesome!!

    Our son together that has had it made in the shade is our Difficult Child. There is addiction in the genes on both sides of our family. But I think it's in the genes on both sides of MOST families!!

    Do not be embarrassed. We have all ENABLED. We are all WEAK.

    I refuse to be shamed anymore by all of this. I REFUSE.

    I have disliked, maybe even hated, my son many times since he turned 15. He has been awful to us. His GOD was being high, drugs, whatever you want to call it.

    I honestly thought at one time he was possessed. I do think the Devil was fighting for his soul. May sound far fetched to some, but I will always believe that.

    MY best advice is to take care of yourself. For me, I found working with a therapist that specializes in addiction helped me tremendously. And this site of course. She helped me establish firm boundaries for my son. He was not that little boy anymore. He was doing some serious damage to my heart.

    It has been a long and horrendous journey. Without my faith I would not have made it this far.
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  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Hi Penny,

    One of the things that has always frustrated me about parenting is the attitude out there that when a kid is messed up it is the parents fault. That is why I always feel so terrible for the parents of those that commit awful crimes. I have been embarrassed many times since my son was little by things he did.... after a while I just had to realize it was the way he is, it was not my parenting, no matter what other people thought.

    Lucky for me I have two kids and my daughter was a very together kid (and a very together adult). She is younger than my son but I realized after she came along that a lot of things I blamed myself for just was the difference in wiring between the two. If she had been my only child I might have been one of those know it all parents who thought my great parenting turned out a great kid, but given that I had my son I knew better!!!

    I do think there are cases of horrible abuse and trauma inflicted by parents have a negative affect on kids.... but that is not what any of us is talking about here.

    I too have gone through what could I have done differently. I have played the if only game many times.... and honestly I am really not sure that anything would have made any difference. In fact I had a therapist once tell me we were a protective factor for our son.... in another environment with different parents (both are kids are adopted) he might have been much worse off. So I have come to the conclusion that none of that matters.

    He is an adult now... what matters is what he does, what decisions he makes and all I can do is to continue to let him know I love him.

    Sounds to me you are doing great.... trying to keep a relationship going for your grandbaby!! That is the right priority to have!
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  7. OTE

    OTE Guest

    As everyone said, its not you. None of us are perfect in any way. But no one caused true mental illness. Its in the brain.

    Keep doing what you're doing. Focus on the gbaby. Think about therapy fir yourself to get through this. It does help.
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  8. PennyFromTheBlock

    PennyFromTheBlock Active Member

    Thank you so much for all the encouragement. I do need to consistently stay here- it does help SO MUCH.

    The catalyst for THIS feeling THIS time is - my gbabys mother continues to allow the baby to be around him on days NOT included in the court order because crazy as my son his, his son loves him fiercely. I was off today- and the baby hasn't felt good. I work out of town a lot, so last week I worked away from Sunday-Friday and this past weekend was HER weekend. So I had not seen him. My son had him last night. My daughter video called me so I could talk to the baby and I literally wanted to cry immediately. I didn't know they were going to have him. So I messaged her and said that I was off - just in case - I don't want my son to have him all day unsupervised. So she tells my son- and his response was "And? So am I and so is his mama". After all I've done and this cruelty? for what reason?

    I don't know if he had a change of HEART or he didn't want to be bothered with him all day (my vote)- he brought him over here this morning. And we spent the day together.

    My daughter- god bless her - needs to get there. she is miserable with him there and now that he has lost yet ANOTHER good job - she's almost there. He literally has nowhere else to go.

    Several months ago he was without a place to stay. got a cheap hotel room, crying called his sister. HE has burnt every bridge. I researched the shelter here and he could have gone there for $2 a night for 30 days. Daughter even drove him by there at 'wait for the doors to open' time to SHOW him. It SEEMED to humble him.

    I too find myself hating him- or maybe, hating who he has become- and man nothing makes a mother feel worse than even SAYING that word- hate-

    My friends are optimistic- because they have no idea how horrible he really acts - "oh he'll grow up, you'll see". He screams and yells at me when he perceives a slight and how (as was said above) he is the way he is because of me, and what a horrible childhood he had. He ruins everything I plan and choose to include him in. My daughter and I took a mini-vacay the first week of august to the coast to take the baby. my son was not invited. he was really mad. doesn't understand that him there? no vacation for me! cooped up in a confined space with him for 4 days? NO THANK YOU.

    I can't control this. I can't fix him. He chooses. He chooses. He chooses.
  9. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    Penny, I have no words of wisdom tonight, but I have read your posts and my heart goes out to you. I hope he is able to turn things around for the sake of that baby. And that you get to have the relationship you want with your grandson. Stay strong.
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  10. OTE

    OTE Guest

    I do understand the frustration that you know that you don't deserve how he treats you. And there's nothing you can do to change it. But you know what to do ... Avoid it and that's what you're doing. Nothing else you can do. If it helps any, I have learned to think of it as illness talking. I know there's a loving person inside my kid. But sometimes the illness takes over and that's all I hear. I have similar with my ADHD kid. The impulse is usually in control. His immediate reaction is often unpleasant at best. He later apologizes. But what comes out is hurtful. And I have to try to ignore and forget it. Yours never apologizes, at least that you hear. Some day maybe.
  11. hope2hope

    hope2hope New Member

    I have been on this site for less than 1 year. I stopped visiting because some of the frequent posters seemed to always propose the “kick them out- they won’t change- light a candle for yourself”. Reading this advice , not necessarily directed at my posts but in response to others, I became more weary. My confusing, distressing situation seemed hopeless and I was 2nd guessing everything we are doing or not doing for my son...but I am back today - why? Because this forum is filled with people fighting in the same war just on different battlefields...no one understands war zones except people who are in it!

    My son also blames me and my husband for EVERYTHING that has gone wrong in the last year and a half....he even accused me of ruining his entire life and being of no help EVER!!! His most recent rant was so irrational that it confirmed to me that he has a serious mental disorder.

    When I am in a more rational state. - not during confrontation - I sympathize and understand that my son’s brain is broken. His personality and life choices have altered 180 from only 2 years ago. When an elderly parent starts to exhibit dementia we do not blame the person. Rather we make adjustments and get proper medical help and society supports us in this new path.

    However, when a young person (onset usually 17 to 22) exhibits symptoms of mental disorder that inevitability results in chaos then we are told sorry HIPPA prevents you from seeking help for this “adult”. Our friends, coworkers, etc who are living in a “peace zone” and are not subject to the battlefield raging don’t understand and think it will pass or it can’t be THAT bad. Inevitably we question ourselves and pile on the guilt as to where or what went wrong.

    If this was an elderly parent being lost to dementia would you blame your relationship or your nurturing style? No ....you would also be more accepting because many people can relate with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Schizophrenia - bipolar - fill in the blank ....not so much.

    My advice is to not blame yourself and make the best decision today that you are able to make. Sadly, for adult children, their choices will ultimately make the most difference .
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    It is a battle every day for me to do this. But as you say, it is the only way.
    I have been here 3 years. In that time I have been in the trenches with my son. (Actually, for ten years it has been hard. And I stuck with my son during that entire time.)

    I do not think I am being in the main defensive in my response, but I do take issue. I see most parents here as dedicated, not rejecting. As overwhelmingly putting their children first, indifferent to the costs to themselves. They do this until they are absolutely spent. And it has not helped their kids.

    We have been very involved. While there had been a 30 month period when I had kicked him out, and he lived a few hours from me, with friends of mine, we were always involved tangentially. (This was the best it got, when I knew he was safe, but I was not responsible.)

    We have tried to involve him in work, had him living here, "rented" to him an apartment in a home I own, pressured him to seek treatment, be productive, and all manner of other things. Every single thing we did, only enabled him to manipulate us and lie to us, and to dig in more with his drug of choice. We in no way helped him.

    He is now probably homeless in a metro a few hours from here. Any contact with him sends me spiraling down. I am without the false hope in bottoms. I am aware this could be a death sentence.

    It is not my own welfare that brought me to the point where I will no longer be involved. It is because my own behavior became so traumatized, reactive and really, not unlike his own, because I was so triggered I had to take responsibility to stop the cycle.

    If through self-sacrifice I could save or help my son, I would do it in a heart beat. But my own sacrifice of myself only makes it worse.
  13. OTE

    OTE Guest

    I don't think Hope means to make judgements of other parent's choices. She mentions the rest of her world who "live in a peace zone" vs those who are here. But we all know there aren't just two options. We all live at some level of stress or "war". Its a spectrum, not a black or white situation. As I feel from my post re adoption, there's always underlying things we can't explain here. At best you can follow someone's posts for a long period if time to know the whole situation. So maybe over time you can understand the full situation. But one post doesn't tell the whole story. So I understand Hope's feeling that it would seem that a parent overreacted in kicking a child from the home based on one night, one event. Or the frustration that it seems that they won't change seems an overreaction based on one night.

    I say this because Hope mentions an onset of 17 to 22. Certainly there are people here in that situation. But for many of us the onset was far younger. In my oldest son's case it was age 2. By the time I was looking for pre-school I knew that the avg school wasn't going to do. Perhaps Hope's son wasn't suspended from elementary school and she didn't have the police at her door for the first time when he was 7. What I'm saying is that making the kind if decision s we have to make is not based on one night, one month, or one year. But based on our child's lifetime and that doesn't fit into one post.
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  14. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    I'm still new to this site, and catching up on a lot of reading. I see where you are getting this. But, I think what I have taken away is something a little different. It's not "they won't change." It's "we can't MAKE them change." So we hold out hope, and guard our emotional and financial resources until such time as they may do some good. I know I will never, ever give up on my kids. But I also know that I can't always rescue them, and often my rescue efforts simply prevent them from moving forward towards true independence. It's a struggle, every day, to find that balance. I think everyone on here has had to find their own balance. "Light a candle for yourself" is, I think, a necessary counterbalance for those of us whose default instinct is to do too much rather than too little, and often to our own detriment and that of the children we are trying to help.

    I hear you on the lack of support and understanding for mental illness out there. It's really hard to find resources before things are at an absolute crisis point. And how can we blame our children and hold them responsible for their actions when they are being held hostage by neurochemicals, brain wiring, and genes? But the paradox is we HAVE to hold them responsible - the act of holding them responsible is one of the only things that helps them resist the impact of neurochemicals, brain wiring, and genes. A philosopher - I don't remember which one - once said that there is probably no such thing as free will, but society works better if we all believe there is free will and act accordingly. Because the belief in free will itself - our children's belief that they are in charge of their own actions and choices - is part of the equation that makes better outcomes more likely. I don't know. I struggle with that conundrum every day. Are they able to make better choices and do better? Or are they truly powerless over their demons? I have to believe that they can find it in themselves to take steps towards a better life. And part of getting them there is making sure that they believe it, too, by not doing for them the things they should be doing for themselves.

    I don't know. I suspect I'm rambling here. I haven't slept much this week.
  15. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    I have mental illness, always did. In my case it is a mood disorder and anxiety and have I been compliant on medications and in therapy since 23. I am 64.

    Maybe its partly attitude but I never thought my brain was broken. I tried harder and harder, did not fight the doctors trying to help me, did not use substances and went to therapy, self help groups and read self help books.

    Although it was probably harder, and my family gave no support to me at all ("she is crazy") I tried enough to end up with a great life.A better life than many people who dont have mental illness, with a loving hub and four amazing children and grands. I feel very triumphant. Very blessed. My fight with mental ill ess made me stronger and more independent since my family (in my opinion all also mentally ill) could not or would not help. It wasnt a bad thing to do my recovery on my own.

    Mental illness can be well treated IF the person is willing and eager to be helped. If not, then it is pretty hopeless, but from another mentally ill person's point of view, that is the fault of the person who wont try. Who wont take medications. Who wont try in therapy. Their fault i o. It is no different than someone with diabetes that wont take insulin. The only mental illness that is so hard to treat if you abide is schizophrenia...that is the only one I personally excuse.

    Nobody here ever threw out a kid for mental illness. And few ever threw out a child before five years of refusal to work, drug use, violence or other things that a mentally ill person does not HAVE to do. The ones who leave home dont accept our help or use pot as their cure etc. I get why the parents finally say if you wont try, you must leave.

    Not once in ten years of reading this forum have I read about a parent who wouldnt be there for a child with challenges who tried. If you are in danger from even your own child, in my opinion it is not smart for both you and the child for you to allow him to abuse you.

    Hope is a good emotion. Keep the Faith is one of my favorite sayings. There is no readon to give up although I get why some do.

    There are many sides to every story.

    Love and light!
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  16. OTE

    OTE Guest

    I agree that broken isn't the right word. But we know what you mean. I am unipolar depressive. Wouldn't be here, literally, without treatment. But I've never figured out how to tell if someone else has the ability to control their behavior. I think the dr who finds a test for that will be a millionaire. For most it probably varies from moment to moment. For those of us who are stable, we either are in control or know how to get there. But as others said, takes motivation and work. My son hasn't yet found the first and refuses the second. I have no control over him.
  17. MyFriendKita

    MyFriendKita Member

    I have several relatives who have bipolar disorder. Some of them are open to help and do try. Some don't. My sister, in particular, does not want help because she does not think there is anything wrong with her. I do not, however, blame her for unwillingness to seek help. It's actually fairly common:

    Bipolar Disorder and Anosognosia
  18. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    Same here! Sometimes nature wins over nurture....
  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    One of the issues my son has which has come since he left home is if he feels physically threatened he will react to defend himself by picking up a nearby tool and brandishing it. This terrifies me. This has happened with a hammer and once he picked up a machete somebody was using for yard work. Borh times an intruder has entered the prooerty. and in both cases m was there to protect him. he would have defended him. but my son knows too that with m there, there would be no risk to appear aggressive. My son has never threatened or hurt anybody. Still I am terrorized

    Two times he was hit in the head. Once was a serious Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

    I believe his reaction to threat is a traumatic response rather than the effects of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). But I could be wrong.

    The thing is this: when we were setting boundaries two months ago he became more reactive. Once he pushed his way into our house.

    That was when I hit his leg with the pot. I did something else, too. I picked up a kitchen implement. I was unaware I had done so.

    M told me to put it down. Only then did I become aware I had it. I had adopted the same symptom as my child. I had no consciousness or control.

    That was when I knew i could do this no more. What I mean is that I had become my son. I then knew I had to detach for real.

    Nobody has tried harder to confront and move beyond their past than have I.

    So I guess i am coming down in the middle between swot and ote. I had no control. And yet I did. I decided to remove my son physically from my environment. And to hold that boundary. I took that control over my life.

    But I think I come down as does ote. Swot. You had lots of challenges. But like me lots of advantages and strengths. I do not think because you did it, everybody can.
  20. overcome mom

    overcome mom Member

    In my first post on this site I too struggled with how and how much you help someone with mental disorder. Can they really always make a rational decision? Just like dementia there are gradations of mental illness. Some people can figure out they need help and I think with others their mental illness distorts reality so much they don't know they need help. When I found this forum I was so happy to get support from others with similar problems as those I have with my son. I have been trying to back off my monetary support of him for two reasons, one it has not seemed to help change his behavior and maybe even prolonged it and two I am so stressed all the time that I am always anxious and unhappy .I am hoping that cutting him off monetarily he will try some new behaviors. I have tried everything I can think of the last 11 years and his life is constantly a crisis. I physically can not live this way anymore.
    I too feel embarrassed at times that I am placating him but the mother in me just wants him to be safe and I know that when he is homeless he is not safe. I dream of being rich so I can at least provide a place for him to live and food for him the rest of his life. But then I tell myself that I have done that for a year and he continued his behavior. Maybe he will never be able to support himself because of his mental illness/ possible drug use and the best I could ever do is to help him have a place to live and something to eat. I think everyone here just does the best we can. If we didn't love and want the best for our children we wouldn't be on this site.
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