Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Acacia, Feb 26, 2019.
I never thought of that, but I bet most of us have PTSD to some extent.
Laura H, that is exactly what I fear with our son who is about your son's age. The fear is that one week of no contact will turn into 4 weeks, will turn into months, will turn into years, and I will never know whether he's alive or dead. Every day is a struggle to stay firm in my resolve not to open myself up to abuse again and to do what might (?) be best for him, namely, experiencing the absence of our care and rescuing in his life. Reconciling myself to the possibility that this could be for forever is hard, so hard. I understand what your struggling with.
It's tragic that we feel we have to be enablers and victims or risk being cut out of our children's lives forever. With some there is no middle ground. It's "give me everything I ask for or you'll never see me again." That's emotional blackmail, and sadly, it works most of the time.
But I think, at the end of the day, that we will eventually hear from them, when they need something and have nowhere to turn but us. I've seen stories to that effect on this very forum, parents who don't hear from their kids for a year or more and then out of the blue, for whatever reason, they get a call or email or unexpected visit.
If you read my own post I've decided I can't bring my son back into my home after he's discharged from the hospital. I've said that before and always ended up caving in, but this time I'm adamant. If it requires me taking legal action against him I won't hesitate to, and I am willing to take the risk of losing him forever. Because if I don't stand firm this time I'm risking my own health and sanity, as well as my marriage. And I will not...I REFUSE to continue risking or sacrificing my marriage to the person who truly has my back for my son who would throw me under the bus in a heartbeat if he had something to gain from it. And how sad is that.
RE - I love Brene Brown's talks. I listen to a lot of self-help and always gain something to help me move forward, if even just a little bit.
RN - I have PTSD, too- from my childhood and my relationship with my difficult adult children. I have finally reached a point where taking care of me is paramount.
Laura - I totally hear what you are saying and empathize. It's such a exhausting cycle of engagement, worry, fear - over and over again. I have been stronger at detaching emotionally and enabling less. Interestingly, after saying he would never do so, my 33 year old son went to a homeless shelter. Three days later he went of his own accord to a detox and is being moved to a 28 day program. It's the first time he's taken these steps on his own rather than being arrested or forced.
I may be wrong, but I believe keeping my boundaries and stepping away as much as I could bear, influenced his decision because I was unwilling to keep helping him. I told him I will visit him at rehab, but when he asked me for money for snacks, I said no, and I am gaining the confidence to continue to say no and mean it.
On the other side, my difficult daughter stopped contact with me over an year ago, and I know nothing about her life or my grandchildren, so there's relief from the insanity, but grief about my grands.
I think you're right about their brains getting stuck developmentally because of trauma, mental illness, or substances, but it is path to find a way to get help. My thoughts are with you.
That is sad and struck a deep note with me. The last years of my marriage were steeped in drama with my twos addiction and issues. It drove a wedge between hubs and I, when I decided that I was done with the “game”. My two pounced on that and triangulated their relationship with their father, I was “the bad guy”. It made it very difficult to have closeness with my husband. He was just so angry. When he fell ill for the last time, they were barely present. Rain would promise on the phone to visit in the hospital, then not show. Hubs had an Advance Directive and when he was diagnosed in the ICU with brain stem function only, a family decision was made to stop treatment, who should show up? Rain, crying and yelling that “I wasn’t giving him a chance.”
I understand her grief and remorse, but to constantly have stuff flung at me, not acceptable.
It is a hard decision to make to go no contact, or say “no you can’t live here”, when it comes to our grown children. We love them and always will.
BUT, when they continually make terrible choices without consideration of the chaos it cause their parents, I believe a line has to be drawn.
I am sorry Laura for the pain of it all, but you are right to put your relationship with your husband at the forefront. Keep strengthening yourself. Our kids are old enough to figure things out. They need to know that they cannot use and abuse us. The only way for them to get that, is if we show them by word and action that we will not be disrespected and tread upon. That’s self love and protecting the sanctity of our homes.
It is the greatest example to them of how they need to care for themselves.
My son resented my husband from the time we started dating, although he appeared to be happy about it when we finally got married. I'm sure it was because he no longer had me to himself and was no longer the primary focus of my world. He did seem happy when we got married, and in fact he gave me away. But then he was in a fairly stable relationship of his own and living an hour from us. However, after coming back from Chicago he dropped little tidbits of relationship advice to both of us (because he has such a great track record with relationships!!) that sounded well meaning but I think was intended to cause minor rifts between my husband and me. I can't swear that that was his intent, but when I mentioned it to my husband last night, he said he thought and felt the same thing. I think he's realized that the two of us standing firm together makes it easier to maintain the boundaries, and maybe thinks he can "divide and conquer". It's sad to think I would ever have to make a choice between my beloved husband and my beloved son, but if it ever comes to that, there is no question in my mind what my decision would be, as heartbreaking as it would be for me.
And your son was way out of line, in my humble opinion, acting like the injured party about his dad. If he wanted to be in the family discussion and decision making and give his input, he darn well should have been there when it was happening.
Here's a short Brene' Brown talk on Boundaries.......seems to fit in this conversation.
Love Brene, “Boundaries are respect, here’s what’s okay for me and here’s what’s not.” Simple.
I have strong feelings about this so I will post on the forum regarding no contact, never a happy option.
No contact (as in no way for them to communicate with me and my stubborn refusal to ever check their internet posts) has stopped me from thinking about those who once hurt me, who were most of my family of origin members. Only they...nobody else.... were abusive to heinous to me. The hurt was strong...I had to leave the memories of most who passed and who still live. Nobody else has ever treated me as horribly as them and as insignificant (shudder). My family of choice begged me to go completely no contact. I did after my dear father passed and it is for the rest of this lifetime. I love my true family of heart soooo much. I wish I had listened to them years ago.
So for me it has been good and removed those old memories from my mind most of the time. But only you can decide what you will tolerate. A child....I think I would go low contact. But it would be much harder. However if anyone, even an adult child, is so abusive to you that you can no longer bear it in your heart and soul a no contact of any length is not immoral to consider. If any of my kids had treated me as worthless and badly as a few of my family of origin members did, the day may have come when I had to consider it. That deep sort of hatred is not really having a relationship anyway. Do only what you can stand to do. No less. No more. It is different for us all.
Leafy, it is simple isn't it? In theory, I got it, it was in practice that I wavered for so long. I didn't know how to set boundaries, I honestly believed that a GOOD mom, a GOOD person behaves in a certain way, which at that time, for me, was to give in to those I loved, to override my boundaries and my intuition and my experience .......and cave. I was locked in to that pattern of responding. I thought that was loving. Not caving took me some time to negotiate through, it triggered my "perfect" mother sense of myself and my beliefs about what a 'good' person is. It took me some time to let go of that old persona and adopt a new one which was good at boundaries and honoring myself. As Brene' says "I'm not as sweet as I used to be, but I'm far more loving."
I'm also more "present" with my daughter and actually everyone now......with boundaries intact, it's provided a sense of empowerment, steadfastness and acceptance which makes it easier to stand strong in my stance and at the same time, be present for what the 'other' is experiencing and still stay in my own center. I didn't know how to do any of this before my daughter went off the rails. It's changed my life across the board, every relationship has either improved or gone by the wayside. Setting boundaries has changed my life in only healthy and positive ways.
I think establishing the boundaries we are comfortable with is very much an individual process. If any contact leads to being manipulated into doing things we aren't comfortable doing, or that we regret doing, or that threatens our health or makes us feel bad, then no contact is certainly acceptable and healthy.
Fortunately for me, my son is in a sober living program that limits contact to letters only. Having some distance from the chaos that follows in his wake is finally giving me enough space to think about where I want to be in relationship to him in the long term, and how to make that happen.
I watched a movie on Netflix last night called "Juanita" about a woman who one day just has enough of shouldering her grown children's responsibilities and takes off on a road trip. The movie wasn't all that, in my opinion, but I found myself thinking, "Oh hell yeah!" when she told her kids she was done "doing" for them, and I think she also showed a good example of the kinds of boundaries RE and Leafy are talking about.
Acacia- I too am struggling with how much contact to have with my son. I have been cutting back contact slowly and it has helped a lot. For me that met not texting /calling but once a week, turning the ringer off on my phone ,not answering his calls if I felt I was not emotionally ready to deal with the new trauma, and most importantly for me, not asking questions about his current situation. If I know any details I would start to worry. I could see the writing on the wall as to what bad thing would happen next or I would try to help him problem solve, both made me feel anxious depressed.
I am still very much an enabler with him but I do think I am getting better. For me, right now, it would make me feel worse emotionally if I don't help him some. I do realize that this behavior is not helping him change. To be honest I really don't know if he has the capacity to change some of his behaviors. I do think that he could stop using drugs but he has some major personality problems that may never change. He has had the same problems since he was little. My prayer for him is that he can get to the point he can make a living and have at least one positive relationship. Both have eluded him for his whole life. I think we all have to go at our own pace- them and us.
I know I have PTSD from all I have been through with him. I realized that fully when I was walking outside on night in the summer and a smell cause the anxiety to rise in me.It brought back the many nights I was out searching for him when he had runaway and I had no idea where he was.
It is good to hear everyone's similar struggles, I don't think that it is in a mothers make up to back off, we are fighters and for most of us that means doing something not ,not doing something. It reminds me of when I was doing bio feed back to help learn relaxation techniques, I kept trying to relax and to relax you need to stop trying and just be and then the relaxation comes. I am trying to just be with my son.
Very powerful posts. The words I read has hit home and has opened my eyes. It's crazy how I can feel strong and have my boundaries in place but at the hence of my son improving and setting goals to hear the same thing how's hes homeless and wanting help. I ponder if I should then I come here.
All those who have written have touched my heart. Overcome mom if I hadn't seen your alias I would have thought I wrote what you posted! I am learning, slowly but surely. I am not as strong as I would like to be, but if I can stay in the present moment and stop myself from fretting about the future, then things go better. I, too, worry that more than substances my son's most pressing issue is a personality disorder, but even there, it's not for me to diagnose him.
I visited him at rehab, and we had a good visit. I stayed in the moment, did not give advice, and did not ask what will happen after the 28 days. He said he will be losing his license because of two unpaid tickets. I did not offer to pay them. This is very hard work for me. Hands off, heart on. My love and concern to all of us in our struggles with our difficult, but loved adult children.
My 30 year old son is adopted too. I have PTSD, too. I resonate with everything on this thread.
About 8 months ago I threw my son out of a property I own, and would not allow him at my home, to the extent of calling the police repeatedly to remove him from my property. It was horrible, but I could not take anymore. I was triggered by him.
My help was only enabling him. I was not in any way supporting him to be better or to be healthy or to live a healthier lifestyle.
For six weeks I had no contact at all. He left town. I felt liberated. Free. Strong.
But then, I could not bear it again. It was not that he was in danger or distress, but something in me kicked in. Some level of emotional neediness or attachment that I had defended against or denied. I'm not sure if it was weakness on my part, or the nature of my attachment to him that I had temporarily walled off. The complete separation for me became intolerable.
I began to seek him out. He avoided me until his circumstances changed, and he came back here. Luckily, I have a second home, a rental, where he can live separate from me. He has been there maybe 8 days. I have neither spoken to him or seen him. I do not want to.
M, my boyfriend, who is living there with him, says my son is afraid to speak to or see me. M is handling everything. Trying to get my son to live in a way that is even remotely tolerable, is a constant battle. My son has been homeless so long, or living so close to the street and without structure or responsibility, that his basic habits are not close to what is required to live like a normal person in a normal home.
M complains to me, and it is so painful. But so far, he is willing to keep trying with my son and to allow me to remain insulated.
I have to tell you, I could not bear interacting with my own child, at this level.
A number of people on this board have suggested to me to basically keep my hands off my son. To not demand anything of him; to have no conditions. But to allow him to come back. Because when he is homeless I suffer so much.
I see the wisdom of this. I have learned, with their help, that I cannot want anything at all from my son. He resists anything that I want of him.
I am grateful to M that he is the one who is there to take on this role. While my son is very slow to change, he is not bucking M. I think he knows that if he does not conform to some extent, this will not work and he will be the loser. This time we have not given him a key. He has to leave every morning when M does and cannot return until M returns. Nor have I asked for rent. I do not want him to feel entitled or comfortable. Nor do I want any legal entanglement with him as a tenant. Isn't that horrible?
A major preoccupation for me with my son is his health, as he has a chronic potentially mortal illness that requires treatment. He does not comply with treatment or get regular and necessary checkups.
I am forced to accept that from even this I have to back off. I have no control. If he is indifferent about his health and life, what can I do?
I cannot bear I just wrote that. But I cannot deal with the conflict, the anxiety and the ups and downs from pushing and pulling over something that in the end, is not my business and beyond my control.
My son is a dependent adult. He needs my help, but does not want my input. The only way this will work is if I accept his terms. I will not, however, let him destroy the property where he lives. He would not only be destroying my livelihood, he would be undermining and destroying a part of any security he will have, upon my death. I don't know what I will do if and when M tires of this situation.
So I'm re-reading what you wrote Acacia, that I have to stay in in the present moment. M is still there. My son is not severely ill right now. Maybe patience and restraint on my part will bear fruit.
Thank you everybody for this thread. It is consoling to not be alone with this.
RE: I liked what you said about expectations of mothering. I have always suspected that I was a codependent person, but it's really come to a head with the situation with our son, J. I am reading "Codependent No More" now because I've realized that I need to examine my perception of motherhood and throw out the false expectations that are not true, that keep me chained to "rescuing" our son and creating chaos and turmoil within me. I appreciate what you had to say and will most likely have to re-read it multiple times in the future. I too come from an abusive, alcoholic background, and I know that created this over-responsible, codependent person I am. I hope to learn not to be responsible for the world anymore.
Just a few comments.
I always struggled being between my husband and my son (it is our son together). It was like being in a vortex. Horrible.
The way that I dealt with this was to remember that even in the Bible it says that your husband/spouse comes first. That is what helped guide me. That is how it is intended - husband comes first.
Our son used to get between us terribly. Before he came to live with us this last time (after 13 month faith based program and before that living out of state in sober living and screwing up a LOT) I told him to RESPECT our marriage. I don't think he ever did that before but he was very young so the concept probably wasn't really something he could grasp.
He does respect our marriage and privacy now thankfully.
As for going no contact, try to be gentle with yourselves mommas! If you frame it in your own mind that it is "for now" to help you cope that may be easier for you. Don't think of it as "forever". I had VERY little contact with our son for a few years. Husband had some but I just had to pull back. He was not doing anything that I wanted him to do and I refused to accept that. I got sick of hurting so bad all the time due to his poor choices and the way he was living his life - if you can even call it living. He knew I loved him and that was all I could offer him during the time of his self-destruction.
Copa - I did not realize your son was home. I think that the way you are approaching it this time is a great compromise. I do so hope that it works for you and Thank God for M!!! Sometimes we need to let the men deal with it!! Cudos to you for trying out something new!!!
This is so hard on us.
Copa, I am very much hoping that having J back gives all of you some space to heal.
Thank you all for sharing your wisdom
This is a hard road
Loving those who actually don’t love themselves and blame us for their problems
I check in and see the wisdom of detachment
And finally have chosen my well being over the roller coaster ride of fog manipulation and consequences that are my sons not my way of living
My code word now is enough
I have given listened been used enough
I have enough self love and boundaries that I choose what is living and sustainable for me
Realized I would never put up with the abuse or over give to anyone else would recognize it for what it was
But with this adult child I used to allow him to manipulate me ever time
Letting go is a gift to us both
Freedom for me
Freedom for him to find out how good it feels to know you can rely on yourself and have healthy relationships
I am only responsible for my own soul
Sharing is beautiful
Being manipulated by guilt obligation and fear is not
Separate names with a comma.