New and need to vent

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LJFromOz, Jan 20, 2019.

  1. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Hello. I've been reading the messages in this forum compulsively for the past few weeks and have finally got up the courage to post.

    I really don't know where to start, so please forgive me if this is long and rambling. My difficult child is my 23 year old son. My husband and I have been married for almost 25 years and have three sons. Difficult Child is the eldest. All three boys live with us at the moment. Our younger sons are both wonderful kids. Middle son (19) is home with us for the summer (we're in Australia) but he'll be heading back to university soon. He did really well in his first year at uni, has a part time job and is an all round great kid. Youngest son is still in high school. He's also doing really well and has never given us a moment's worry.

    Difficult Child is another story. He's always been a highly strung anxious child, even when he was a baby. He had sleep issues as a baby and was a wilful toddler/preschooler, who threw constant tantrums. Once he started school this calmed down a lot. He was never in trouble at school (although he did struggle academically) and teachers were always telling us how well behaved and well mannered he was. At home this wasn't the case. He would scream at us and throw tantrums when he didn't get his own way. Both my husband and I are big on consequences, so we never gave in to him, but the tantrums continued until he was way too old to be behaving that way. Even so, we never really thought he had major problems. Yes, he was quick to throw tantrums at home and yes, he was immature for his age and struggled with his schoolwork, but otherwise he seemed like a normal, average kid. He did have some health issues - asthma and allergies - but these were kept under control and other than that we thought he was fine. A challenging personality perhaps, but nothing to really worry about.

    I like to think he had a happy childhood. My husband and I are very happily married. When the boys were little we were close to my parents (who have now passed away). I'm also close to my brother and his family and my boys had lots of interaction with their aunt and uncle and cousins as they were growing up. My husband and I both have good jobs and I was fortunate enough to be able to be at stay at home mum when the boys were little. I've always managed to be present for all the boys sporting events, concerts, school plays etc. We've been lucky enough to be able to take the boys on many family holidays, both here and overseas. The boys have had the opportunity to plays sports, learn musical instruments and participate in other extra-curricular activities. We tried to encourage them rather than push them though - our only rule was that if you are a part of team you must participate for the whole season. No letting the team down!

    We have tried very hard to bring up independent young men who take responsibility for themselves. We've insisted on part time jobs, and made them pay for their own social activities, purchase their own game consoles, pay for the upkeep of their cars etc. I could go on and on trying to convince you all that we did everything right, or at least the very best we could, but somewhere along the way it all went terribly wrong.

    It probably started in Difficult Child's last year of high school, although we didn't see it then. We'd moved away from the city the year before to live in our current location - a small coastal town. All our kids seemed to settle into their new environment easily - including Difficult Child. He made friends and was doing well at school in a modified academic program (aimed at kids who don't want to continue on to university.) That year he won a prize for the highest achieving student in his program. The following year though he made lots more friends - some who were not exactly a great influence - and began to slack off a bit a school. Fortunately he had a lovely girlfriend, who helped to keep him from going off the rails and he got through the year and graduated.

    However during the year he had his struggles. He went through periods of depression. He began to fight with his girlfriend (not violently - just arguments) and she told me she was worried about his mental state and was afraid he'd commit suicide, which came as huge shock to me at the time. I took her seriously and talked to him, tried to make him get help, but he refused. By this stage he was eighteen years old and we had no right to make any medical decisions for him.

    Since then it has been a roller coaster of ups and downs - mood swings, bouts of depression and anxiety and periods where I've been terrified he'd take his own life. He's become increasingly disconnected from us. He works part time in a supermarket (a job he has had since he was 17.) But other than that he does nothing. He sleeps all day (works in the evenings - usually between 8 and midnight). When he's not sleeping he's playing video games. Or is out with his friends smoking dope. We've tried to help him to get to stage where he can improve his life. We've paid for courses he's never finished, helped him get job interviews that he hasn't turned up to, talked to him about ways he can help himself, all to no avail. He feels incredibly sorry for himself and often blames others (including us) for the situations he finds himself in.

    He has moved out of home twice. The first time he was living with two other young men and they lived like pigs - all of them. Not that this was my problem of course, but he would come home for a meal stinking like he was homeless. His clothes were dirty and he was generally unkempt. I was really worried he would lose his job during this time but he didn't. He had, however, been a duty manager at the store and was being groomed for promotion but that all went out the window and he was demoted. (He lied to us about this at the time.) Eventually he moved home for a few months and he was actually pretty good to start with. We gave him rules that he adhered to in the beginning - showering every day, washing and ironing his own clothes, keeping his room clean, no smoking ANYTHING on our property, paying board. One really positive thing that happened during this time was that he started seeing a psychologist. He did this on his own after his doctor suggested it. So we thought he was doing okay. Of course as the months went by he started to slack off - stopped paying board, left his room a pigsty and told us the psychologist didn't need to see him anymore. We got on on his case, which he didn't like so he found somewhere else to live.

    And that's when everything completely spiraled out of control. I honestly don't know what happened while he was out of home, but I do know he became terribly depressed and I believe that he was smoking weed on a daily basis. He had a huge falling out with his housemate (and some others in his social circle) and ended up coming back here to live.

    At first I was so worried that he would kill himself that I was happy to have him home. He went back to the psychologist and started taking daily medication for his depression and anxiety. I was hopeful that he was getting himself together. But a couple of months down the track we're back on the treadmill. He is sleeping all the time, making no effort to do anything other than go to his job (which I'm grateful he still has.) He's smoking dope with his friends when he's not here (I found a container of mj in his jacket. Told him if he brings drugs here again he'll have to leave.) He takes no part in family life, "forgets" to tell me whether he'll be here for dinner or says he will be and then doesn't turn up. When he's here all he does is play video games. His room is filthy and he goes to work looking like he has slept in his clothes. He's not violent towards us but he is rude and dismissive and seems completely unaware of the impact his behavior has on others.

    I'm tired of worrying that he will take his own life. I'm tired of worrying he will lose his job. I'm tired of him treating this house like a hotel. I'm tired of wondering what mood he will be in when he wakes up. I'm tired of worrying that he'll get busted for drug possession and end up in jail. I'm tired of his moods affecting the whole house. I feel like a terrible mother for feeling this way but I just want him to leave.

    Today my husband and I made a plan. We decided that we will give him a deadline to get his act together and move out. We are taking our youngest son on a long holiday soon so we will have a break from Difficult Child. When we return we have a month until we move to a new house. We've decided that we will give him that month to actively look for more work and if he doesn't then he cannot come to the new house with us. If he does look for more work and /or finds full time work we will allow him to stay with us until the end of the year (so he can save some money.) At the end of the year he will be 24 and that's our line in the sand. He needs to stand on his own two feet. I know this is the right thing to do but I am terrified that it will go horribly wrong for him. 'But what other choice do we have? Support him forever?

    I'm sorry this has been such a long post. I feel like I haven't really explained our situation very well despite all my rambling. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.
  2. sooooo tired

    sooooo tired soooootired

    Well as you can see by my screen name that I have been through the exact thing. The awesome people on this site got me through some awful times, Keep venting we will all keep responding!! I too have three children. My oldest is also the difficult child. When I first found this site I was still letting her ruin my life and my other two childrens lives. My Difficult Child had a wonderful childhood, had everything she wanted or needed. She was very popular in high school. She was in band and was on the flag team. She was in track and broke the school record with a long jump of 16 feet 8 inches. She was Homecoming queen one year and senior attendant her senior year. Then the downfall. She got pregnant her senior year, graduated 6 months pregnant. After she had the baby she turned into a nightmare with violent rants and disrespect, constantly causing scenes. She split up with the babies dad and lived with her grandma for awhile. She got a job and was at least trying so i bought her a car. she quit her job shortly after. Tried to get an apartment on welfare. Needless to say i paid rent utilities gas money things the baby needed. But she acted like a entitled brat going off on everyone because they wouldnt pay her way. She has attacked me so bad that i called the police on her twice. She has tried to commit suicide 3 times, I believe just for attention. I thought I was going to lose my mind. I went to so many therapists, she went to therapy. She got diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Narcissist, sociopath. No one knew what she was. She got on medication for awhile then would not keep taking it. I dealt with it for YEARS with nothing changing. It took these awesome people on this site to convince me that it is perfectly ok to walk away. And that is what I did almost 3 years ago. She has 4 kids with 4 different men. I only keep in touch with the youngest one who lives with his dad. I use to let guilt ruin my life but I can now sit back and say,,,I know I did everything I could do and im not living like this anymore!! My life is so much better now and she still hasnt changed a bit, still living off of people, smoking pot. I pray for her and hope god will turn her around. But until then I am going to enjoy my life and my two awesome kids I have left. She will be 43 in february. I think I gave her a fair chance. Some people just dont want to change, so you just have to let go and let god handle it. I hope you are doing ok. stay on this site, you will get through it !!!!
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  3. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    LJ your journey is one that is all too familiar for many of us. You have made every attempt to help him. I agree with you that it Ike for him to stand on his own. He is no longer a child. The more you continue to do for him, the less he will do on his own.

    He sounds like he is very depressed, and I hope he decides he is willing to get help. Unfortunately, as you’ve noted, we can’t force them to do this once they are 18. It is out of our hands.

    Has he ever been prescribed antidepressants? Would he be willing to consider them? The hard thing about depression is that it saps your motivation to do the things that would make it better - see a psychiatrist, take the medications, get some exercise, follow a treatment plan. The choices he is making - smoking dope and sitting around playing video games, are likely making things worse. But of course they don’t see it that way. They don’t recognize that the things that make them feel better in the moment are just pulling them further down in the long run.

    But no matter what his mental health problems may be, you are absolutely right to hold him accountable while he is under your roof and expect that he will take steps towards independence. Enabling him, or cushioning the pain of his mistakes, will not help. I can’t promise you that he will get better once he is out on his own and responsible for himself, but I can pretty much guarantee nothing will change as long as you are propping him up at home. He no reason to change as things are. And he is making everyone else in the house miserable while he is there.

    You deserve peace in your home. And he is an adult who will have to learn to be responsible for himself, the sooner the better. This cant go on until he is 30, or 40. And it will, unless you force a change.

    Stay strong. I think you are on the right path.
  4. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Sooooo Tired, thank you so much for your reply. I'm sorry you had to go through this too. Having a child like this is so stressful. some days it's all I think about. I haven't really been able to talk to anyone about it. It's such a relief to read other people's posts here and know that I am not alone.
  5. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    Oz, my story is almost an exact replica of yours, although my DS is 20, did well in school and was compassionate and considerate until he started smoking pot in later high school. But they turned out the same. I wish I could be of help, but we just had DS leave because we found too much of a substance in our home which was the preverbial straw. From my time with a great therapist and on this wonderful board I have found that they HAVE to want to help themselves, almost nothing we do or say has any real impact against the drug lifestyle. Hugs.
  6. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Hi Elsi, thanks so much for replying. Just talking to others about this situation lifts the burden a little.

    He's taking antidepressants but he doesn't take them properly - misses days, takes them at all different times, and then mixes them with dope, and sometimes alcohol. He's well aware this is dangerous but doesn't seem to care. Sigh.
  7. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Thanks so much for your support, CareTooMuch xx
  8. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Well-Known Member

    It sounds like you have an excellent plan laid out and you should carry through. My story is a little different but still went through many of same things. My son has threatened suicide many times but has not carried through. He is 37 and bipolar. It is always hard to walk away but sometimes necessary for our sakes as well as theirs. I believe that when they are able to function on their own it builds their self esteem which may help with depression. You and your husband have the right to live a peaceful life.
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  9. Elsi

    Elsi Active Member

    This was my daughter S. Then she stopped taking them entirely. It’s so hard when they are not treatment compliant. We have no control. They have to want it for themselves. I’m so sorry, for him and for you.
  10. CareTooMuch

    CareTooMuch Active Member

    DS tried a few different medications but wouldn't take them regularly too, so I stopped the trials because it's dangerous not to take them steadily.
  11. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    I could have written your post when my son was 20. (almost 22 now)
    My 1st post here is our BIG blow out.
    Like you I had been reading this board for months and it is what kept me sane. Just knowing we weren't alone helped.
    I feel guilty that I do not in any way want our son to be living back in our house. I would like to see him more but NOT living here.
    our son also migrated into a less than desirable group in senior year and (it's his fault, he went along) and lost the ambition to go to college (he was already accepted). He works at a car dealership , full time. His wage isn't enough to pay all of his bills (he spends some frivolously) We help out a little to keep his car insurance paid.
    I am worried about depression( and suicide if overwhelmed) and at this point I haven't been pushing him to add another part time job (he did have one but they wanted hours he couldn't work due to full time job needing him to stay over at times)..

    It sounds like you have a good plan for after holiday.
    I know you feel guilty. So did I. But you don't need him ruining the other kids final time at home either. My daughter told me the only time she heard her dad and I fight it was due to ds and she said it was a lot. That makes me sad. I was always making excuses for him.
    You are giving him plenty of heads up. Maybe (fingers crossed) he will find a good room mate, maybe a girl he wants to impress. Get his act together to keep her happy (that's where mine is at the moment).

    Good luck. Keep posting.
  12. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    Hi Oz- I've been on a similar path with my daughter, but it has included my granddaughter who was born when my daughter was 19. It's so very difficult to deal with troubled adult children. It's great that you and your husband have a plan. Sounds like you have a very supportive husband, which is wonderful. I have struggled through this on my own. The hard part comes when you have to stick to your plan and watch your child suffer due to their own choices. I have found that the more I back off of my daughter and focus on myself the better our relationship is and she seems to make better choices. I have become pretty good at focusing on myself and just responding to her with neutral phrases like, "I hope it works out." Or "You're a smart girl, you'll figure it out."

    I would mention that frequently when you set boundaries for these kids and stick to them they will up the ante. Their behavior gets worse and, in my case, they turn into raving lunatics. When I first set and maintained boundaries my daughter lost her sh*t. She would call my phones over and over, leaving crazy messages, etc. I would just turn my phones off and delete the messages without listening to them. That was probably the hardest point for me because it was so stressful and I was learning to deal with her in a different way. Previously I had set boundaries, but I didn't stick to them. It's a tricky thing to learn but it is possible. If I can do it, anyone can. It's also helped me in all areas of my life, so good for me.

    Being on here is wonderful support to me. Many people, even my good friends, don't understand what we go through in dealing with these kids. They make dumb remarks to me like, "Just tell her..." Or "Don't let her do it." They have no concept of what this is like. Everyone on here has had similar experiences, made similar mistakes and had some successes. They don't judge you, they just understand. Sending peace to you. Welcome!
  13. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Thank you so much for all your lovely replies. I woke up this morning feeling fragile and then opened my laptop to find all these lovely messages had been posted while I was sleeping. Just knowing I am not the only mother facing this situation today makes it easier.

    Tired Out - I'm going to go back and read your early posts. Thanks so much for your support.

    Elizabrary, thank you for the advice. I am very concerned that his behavior will escalate once we outline the plan to him, or if not then, when we follow through. I am very fortunate that my husband and I are on the same page with this - it helps not to be alone.

    I know this is the last thing I should worry about but I really fear the judgement of others. I feel like everyone is looking at our family and thinking that my husband and I are the worst parents in the world. It doesn't help that a lot of the time I feel like that might be true. But then I think about all the kids I've taught who were physically abused and worse, or who lived in terrible poverty and still managed to grow up and get themselves jobs and contribute to society. I honestly don't know where we went wrong with Difficult Child. We did make mistakes, I know that, but I don't think they were any worse than the average parent.
  14. Acacia

    Acacia Active Member

    LJ, there is not a parent in the world who hasn't made mistakes. Children have different sensitivities, genetics, etc. and it's hard to say why some thrive and some flounder in the same circumstances. If you didn't love your children, you wouldn't be looking for help.

    Some people will judge you; however difficult that may feel, try not to take it to heart. The people who matter, who have been there, or who are compassionate will not judge you, and you will find out quickly who they are. The members on this forum will not judge you. They will offer support, ideas, and solace. Keep posting.
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  15. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Thank you so much Acacia.
  16. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I learned two things in life that really changed everything for me: 1) What someone else thinks of you is none of your business and 2) The way someone treats you says everything about them and nothing about you. Once I internalized these two things I became so much more calm, confident and happy because both of these things are true. People who judge you or are unkind are unhappy people. The only times I have been mean to someone else are when I have been sad or uncomfortable with myself. My daughter's behavior reflects on her and the person she is. It has nothing to do with me. I have come so far that I put all of her b.s. out there, which she hates because it embarrasses her. I told her if she didn't want people to know she wouldn't do it.
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  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Welcome. Our story, too, is similar. Everything seemed fine at home until age 16, and then I ascribed it to mild teen rebellion. Then at 18 I had to begin pushing him to do anything. He did complete a trade school program, actually two and a year of college. And he worked a bit over a year as a nurses' aide.
    But then it all fell apart. He only wanted to stay home, was depressed, but would not do one thing to help himself. I asked him to get treatment, and he would not. I kicked him out after 6 months. He did stay with family friends for 2 years and got himself on aide.
    My son uses marijuana to excess. He has been homeless off and on for 5 years. When he does not live with me, he is homeless. My son does not do anything useful. He refuses psychiatric treatment.
    This is us.
    This too.
    As long as you let his threats and your fear to control you, that will be your status quo. Your worrying will not protect him. In fact, not one thing you can do will protect him EXCEPT to call the police or emergency services every single time he makes or infers a threat. My son has stopped making suicide threats.

    You need to know that if you decide to not allow him to follow you to the new house, it may get worse before it gets better. Or it may not get better. My son is homeless and sleeping in a friend's truck.

    In my case I have more or less accepted that NOTHING I do helps. That I can try a range of things 100 times more and it will not only NOT work, (because he does what he wants, and lives as he wants) but I get sick and surrender my life. For nothing.

    But still, everybody here that posts on my threads, knows that I keep fighting with myself, because I want to keep trying. Even knowing that my direct involvement in his life does not help, and is very difficult for me, I have illusions that NEXT time it will.

    I feel a great deal of sadness. It is very hard to have my serenity, my space, my energy--knowing my son is out there. It is the empty space that is HIM in me. That is worse. My son is my only child. It is like my life in the place where he is just kind of fell off a cliff. I don't know how to fill it.

    But the thing is, what is my choice? Our children deserve their lives. Just as we deserve ours. On an intellectual level I realize it is deeply disrespectful to insist that another grown adult live according to my rules, based upon my needs. I get this, but my heart does not.

    As far as your plan, I believe it is imminently reasonable and correct. When your child is balking at every step, imposing his rules rather than accepting yours, living unhealthily (or a way you believe to be unhealthy), not seeking and following through with needed help, it is time for that adult to live independently. This is a young man who is able to work. He is basically just blowing everything off. I came to realize that it was deeply wrong for me to subsidize this.

    Does it feel good? No. Do I vacillate? Yes. Do I doubt myself? Yes. Am I sad? Yes.

    But bottom line, there is no other way. For me. My son is living his life as he chooses. For us, there is a way for him to come back. But it is not step one, two, three or four. Those steps are his to make. It sounds like you are in the same place.

    We can have hopes for our children, but after they achieve adulthood, the only expectations that work are theirs for themselves.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  18. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    Copabanana, thank you so much for your response.

    I find it remarkable how many of us have similar stories. I know that we do not have an easy road ahead of us and I know that letting go will be difficult for me. I'm hoping that the support of my husband and this forum will help me to stand by my choices come what may. But I'm under no illusion that it will be easy. Even as I type this I keep thinking of other things that perhaps I could try to help him. But instead of pursuing those I'm here typing, because I know that the only person who can truly help him is him.

    For me one of the biggest issues I'm dealing with is the impact of Difficult Child on my younger two children. My desire to help my eldest is tempered with my desire to protect his brothers from damage.

    I'm so sorry you are going through this too.
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  19. Tired out

    Tired out Active Member

    Have you spoken with the younger 2 (since they are late teens) regarding their brother's issues? You don't want them to hate being hme becasue he sucks the joy out.
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  20. LJFromOz

    LJFromOz Member

    We have spoken quite a bit to the 19 year old about him (but he doesn't live here full time - just home for the summer.) We haven't really spoken to the 15 year old much about his brother's issues. Right now he has very little impact on their lives. He's not violent and we don't really argue with him - well, not when the other boys are home. We try never to raise any issues with Difficult Child in front of the other two. He's perfectly nice to everyone as long as they are not suggesting he do something (clean up after himself, look for work etc.) When we do raise these issues he's rude and dismissive or complains about how hard things are for him - resorting to the suicide threats when we really push things with him. Most of the time he is at home he is in his bedroom and doesn't have an impact on the other two. He likes his brothers and is generally nice to both of them.

    My main concern is that he will do something (such as be arrested for drug use) that will cause embarrassment or shame to the other two - especially my youngest who is still at high school. We live in a small town and people gossip. I really don't want my youngest being put in a situation where other parents don't want their kids to hang out with him because of his brother. So far we've avoided this, but I fear it's only a matter of time that something disastrous happens.

    I guess in some ways we are lucky that our house is fairly calm. Difficult Child just sits in his room playing video games or sleeping when he's here. He spends a lot of his time at his friend's place playing video games (and probably smoking dope.) I guess our main issue is that he is just wasting away quietly - depressed, sometimes high and not doing anything at all to take steps to live a productive life.

    We talked today about how he needed to show us he was attempting to find a full time job if he wants to keep living here. He agreed but then went back to his room and continued to play games all day. It was a soft start - didn't mention the deadline yet, but we will.
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