This has been gnawing at me...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by LauraH, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    Since I attended a family counseling session on Thursday with my son at his rehab. It was somewhat productive and I'm glad it happened but he said a couple of things that, the more I think about them, the more it bothers me, particularly because I don't know the best way to respond.

    Keep in mind that the counselor had never seen my son or me until that day and has never laid eyes on my husband, so has no real clue about what goes on in our home.

    He mentioned that my husband was a "recovering crack addict." Well my husband did smoke crack...heavily...20 or 30 years ago before my son and I ever met him. But using and addiction aren't always the same thing. On one occasion he spent his rent money to get crack and had to borrow money from his brother to pay his rent. After that he thought "What the hell am I doing?" and never touched crack again nor even had a desire to. I can't say if he was an addict or not but I don't believe he was in the full sense of the word.

    He also related a story about a physical confrontation between he and my husband that about about two months ago. My so was either using or had been using the previous day and was rambling on to me about I don't know what, all kinds of negative traits and personality flaws I possess, and getting louder, angrier, more insulting, and more agitated by the second. Finally my husband had heard enough at lunged at him and they began to scuffle. I tried to intervene and step between them but my husband gently but firmly placed his hands on my shoulders and moved me out of the way. Granted, my husband's response was inappropriate and ill advised, and he later acknowledged that. But my son denies saying anything out of line and maintains my husband attacked him with no provocation and for no reason. He also insists that my husband forcefully threw me against a wall and hurt my shoulder in the process. When I stated what actually happened regarding the way my husband got me out of the way and said I was not hurt in any way, my son told me my memory of the event was incorrect. "I was there and I saw what happened, and he hurt you!" Well I certainly think if it happened the way my son said I would have remembered it! Again, it wasn't a wise thing for my husband to do, but the way my son tells it it was a violent unprovoked attack on first him and then me. Plus, the counselor had no way of knowing that that was not a typical occurrence in my home but an isolated incident that was provoked by my son's inability to control his tongue.

    And then he told the counselor that my husband is an alcoholic. Actually he probably is, but a functioning alcoholic and his drinking is not problematic. He doesn't drink to excess, he drinks a 4 or 6 pack of beer or sometimes a pint of whiskey when he gets home from work each night. He has been doing this since long, long before we mt. In 40 years of working at the same job he has missed three days due to being sick with the flu or stomach virus, and unrelated to his drinking. He doesn't create chaos and drama in our home and the bills and rent are always on time every month because he's never dipped into our household money to buy alcohol.

    So now I'm thinking he's painted a picture for the counselor that looks like he grew up in a dysfunctional home with an out of control raging violent alcoholic stepfather and former crack addict...none of which is true. I doubt the counselor knows that my husband has only been in my life for 10 years and that my son for the most part grew up in a single-parent household which, while fairly dysfunctional, was certainly never violent with rampant drug and alcohol use.

    I don't know if he honestly sees this as the way things are or if it was a deliberate manipulation to set up a "Oh you poor kid, no wonder you're such a mess" picture of himself for his care team. or to deflect from his own addiction, which unlike my husband's is extremely problematic for everyone concerned I didn't try to respond, for the sake of time, and because I honestly was at a loss for words. And had I tried to correct his version of the above tales I believe he would have tried to make it look like I'm just in complete denial.

    How to respond? Let it go or try to set the record straight? I'm going to try to set up another family session when my husband can be there...if my son agrees to it...and I would like to bring up the above concerns. But would that be appropriate? Would it accomplish anything or be a pointless exercise in futility?

    And one other thing, for 2 or 3 months he has been harping on me to download some kind of money transfer app, why I'm not exactly sure, as I have no intention of giving him any money ever again. The first time he suggested it, it had something to do with transferring money from his debit card (he had just gotten paid) to me and having me take cash out of my ATM. I don't understand the logic behind that, why he couldn't just use his debit card to make purchases, and to get cash back from that purchase if he needed cash. Sounded a little fish to me and I said no, as I said no every time he's brought it up since. I don't know why he's so adamant about this or why it's such a huge deal to him. He told the counselor he felt invalidated because I wouldn't even listen to him try to explain how the app works. Well he did try to explain it and it went right over my head and after the third time of this I told him I am not having this discussion with him anymore. But when I said that at the meeting he denied that I ever gave him a chance to talk about it...making me look like stubborn, bullheaded, and set in my ways (Okay I am but that's beside the point.) Anyway that whole thing just seems so bizarre to me and I don't trust his motives. I would like to bring that up as well if we have a second session, but it's not such a priority.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent yet again. And sorry for the length. I truly wish I knew how to be more succinct when I write or speak. Thanks for your patience. Would love to get your take on this.
  2. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Well-Known Member

    You do not ramble in my opinion you just give the details we need. I have been through the same thing with my son where he accused his father of abuse because of an incident where he got angry because of the vile things coming out of my sons mouth. My husband was not abusive. I truly believe that when he goes off on a what i call hissy fit sometimes verbal, sometimes throwing things that he blacks alot of it out in his mind. I would address it with the councelor in a calm and rational way. Maybe something like i would like to readdress or clarify some things that were said in our last session because my memories differ from my sons. I think the councelor will be able to assess what you both said and draw his/her conclusions. Having your husband go is a good idea as well.
    My sons memories and mine often don't coincide and sometimes he even says i never did that when there are multiple others that say he did. I don't know if that is part of his disease or drug or alchohol induced. I think that many here have reached a point where we stood up to the abuse in what may or may not have been an appropriate manner because we felt threatened or another loved one was threatened. It is not the same as a pattern of abuse. I wish at times that i had been able to record him during some of his fits i honestly think he would be shocked at what he does. I am afraid that if i tried it would just enrage him more. He has settled some in the last year as far as verbal abuse to me. He has however had a couple blowups with others. For this reason i think both your son and the councelor need to hear what both you and your husband remember so he/she can put together as true a picture as possible. As far as the app i would say i don't plan to give you money so what would be the point. In the meantime try to be good to yourself.
  3. ForeverSpring

    ForeverSpring Well-Known Member

    in my opinion....less is more.

    No words will change their minds. Just aggrevate you and hurt you.
  4. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This has happened at our house too. Unfortunately, they cross boundaries, they deflect and deny responsibility...and eventually if we do not draw boundaries and keep them, we are triggered:
    Then, they become the victims. And the saga continues.
    This would enrage me. (All of this is written with the assumption that there is no domestic violence.) He is setting up a triangle where your husband is the perpetrator, you are the hapless and helpless victim, and he is the savior. His attention is laser focused on you and your husband as the main event, and his addiction, his role in triggering events, his dysfunction, are left in the dust.
    I think the issue is not appropriateness. I think the issue is what is in your own (and secondarily his) best interests, and those of your husband.

    I think your son is being destructive and is hurting you and your husband. You both offered him refuge, support and tolerance in your home over a long period.Your son set up the adversarial and out of control atmosphere that precipitated the outburst and the tension by ignoring boundaries and refusing to control his behavior and deflecting responsibility.

    From what you write, your home life with your husband is tranquil and satisfying to you both. Who disrupted this? Your son. And what does he do? He throws both of you under the bus.

    I would have no part of this conference. Your son is an adult entering middle age. He is not a 14 year old who is dependent upon you and your husband. Your conduct, and your husband's is not at issue here. That it was brought up as a matter of focus to me is insulting. I would be angry at my son. And I would hope I backed off, way way back.

    Let him take responsibility for his stuff. Stop this cycle of his making you responsible. What he is doing is abusive and wrong.

    I understand why you are making the list of resources. I would hope that you give him the list, and then back out of this. Your son has shown you over and over again that he is not handling responsibly access to your home and your life. This is one more example.
    This is scary. And it sounds like a scam. The attempt to set you up, with access to your bank account, to rob money. What does your bank account have to do with him?
    Nor should you.

    Your household is not in treatment for addiction. Your son is. If this adult man has problems with your husband, your husband's substance use, or your relationship he needs to articulate this to you directly and/or to stay away.

    These topics to me are not the central dynamic in your son's addiction or mental illness. His central dynamics are in him. And his responsibility is to deal with him, in his treatment. Not to deal with your husband, or your relationship with your husband.

    I hope you draw a firm and strong boundary to keep your son away from your home, and your relationship with your husband. This current incident tells me that there is danger here for you and your husband from your son. (If there is domestic violence please contact a domestic violence program.) But there is also danger presented by false accusation. And from what you have written on this forum, your husband has tried very, very hard to give a hand to your son and to support you. I would feel very badly if your husband became collateral damage, to your son's machinations.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019
  5. DoneDad

    DoneDad Active Member

    I would treat him like a rattlesnake and keep my distance. He’s obviously trying to involve you in some kind of scam with the cash transfer app. He’s accusing your husband of assault and domestic violence ( both potentially serious felonies). Probably so he can play the victim and take the focus off himself and his behaviors. And to make you feel guilty and responsible so you continue enabling him.

    I would be very hesitant to ever have him in my home again. As far as the therapy, if it’s really important to you, maybe schedule an individual session with the counselor and explain the reality of the situation. Or send them a copy of what you posted.

    It sounds like the therapy is just another opportunity for him to abuse and manipulate you. What is the point of you attending these sessions?

    If he is serious about making changes in his behavior, the first step is taking responsibility for his own actions. He’s not doing that. He’s still blaming and deflecting. Sitting and listening while he blames you and your husband for his problems is abusive to you and counterproductive for him. I wouldn’t have any part of it.
  6. Deni D

    Deni D Active Member

    I’m in the camp of “less is more” on this one. I am the target of my son’s blame for his issues. I was also the target when his father was unstable. Most likely there will be no getting through to your son on your differences of opinion. I would try to just state to the counselor how you see things very differently but don’t want to spend your time debating reality because it seems futile and let the counselor lead the discussion or lack of from there.

    I really don’t think it would be a good idea to bring your husband to the next session. This is only from my point of view with my feelings as someone who is being used as a scapegoat for my son’s bad behavior. I literally shake when I think about going to family therapy with my son at this point. I don’t want to be put in a position to have to defend myself against total bs with the possibility of a third party thinking the truth is somewhere in the middle and we just have “communication problems” or some other nonsense.

    Bottom line is your son is not taking responsibility for his current situation in life. I don’t know how a counselor would successfully handle it but I have feeling it won’t start with them trying to correct his view of reality. I think it would be more along the lines of them showing concern and empathy with him for his “life story” and then nudging him along with whatever seems right for him to start to become the master of his own life. Does he have one on one counseling with that particular counselor?

    On that app thing, good call, yeah no to that. Geez, good thing we are not as stupid as they think we are.
  7. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    That made me giggle. But so true...most adolescents and teenagers think their parents are dumber than a box of rocks but as they grow they realize Mom and Dad aren't morons after all. Obviously my son hasn't reached that point yet.

    To your question on counseling, he does get one on one sessions at the rehab but I'm not sure how it works. The counselor we saw on Thursday had never met him before so her only points of reference was what she saw and heard in the session and what was in his file.
  8. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have a different point of view. Your son is entitled to his opinion and his perceptions. Many people enter therapy with the sole purpose of assigning blame, not to address their issues, so I think it's something the therapist has seen many times before, particularly where substance abuse is present. If you have a good therapist, and that is an important IF, he/she will appropriately address these issues. Your son is in the blaming stage, not yet ready to be accountable for his actions. However, he is expressing himself.

    While your son has his perceptions, yours are as important and you need to express them. You disagree with his perceptions, state that.

    Your husband's alcoholism may have impacted your son in ways that did not impact you. Substance abuse is insidious. Alcoholism impacts each individual in a family differently.

    I have a friend whose perception of her family life as a child is of a wonderful, carefree, loving home life. However, her older brother saw their Dad's drinking as a huge problem, so bad that he disengaged from the entire family. She said her Dad only drank x amount of drinks per day and it had no impact on her at all. But it had a huge impact on her brother. Just as an aside, her brother is not a jerk, he is a successful Doctor. Perception. Who is right? Perhaps they both are.

    I think the app issue is a separate issue to deal with. My granddaughter uses an app to shift money around easily, all the young people use it, it isn't nefarious, it's just easier. Your son's intention may be nefarious, but the apps aren't necessarily so.

    If it were me, I would set up another family session and state my own perceptions of the truth, try my darnedest not to take what he says personally and respond with my own truth........ and be open to what the next step is.
  9. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    My son was grown when my husband and I met and started dating. We've only been married for five years. But that's one of the things that has me concerned, is that the counselor might be under the impression that my son grew up with an alcoholic stepfather in the home. My son grew up, literally from the day he was born (his father had left two months earlier and was never in the picture), in a single-parent household that was drug and alcohol free with the exception of cigarettes (which is one of the few things my son never picked up, thankfully). I did do drugs here and there in my younger years but by the time my son came into my life I was only smoking weed, and then just on occasion. And the day I found out I was pregnant I ended that 100% as well. Of course there were issues and a certain amount of dysfunction, especially since I didn't have the tools and knowledge to deal properly with him when he started acting out and showing signs of mental and/or behavioral disorders. But my husband was a complete unknown living in a different state during those years so whatever traumas or issues (real or perceived) my son experienced in childhood, my husband wasn't a factor.

    I really believe that he very likely brought my husband into the conversation to deflect from his own issues and/or use my husband's drinking as justification or excuse for his own drug use and/or to try to make me for guilty.
  10. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    "I really believe that he very likely brought my husband into the conversation to deflect from his own issues and/or use my husband's drinking as justification or excuse for his own drug use and/or to try to make me for guilty."

    Oh ok, that's a different story then. Disregard my post. I can't remember any longer the ages of our kids here, (my age is too old for me to remember!) it used to be that members put a brief synopsis at the bottom of the thread and without that, it's harder, at least for me, to recall the ages and the issues without having to go back and re read the old posts!
  11. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    My son just turned 30. But like my husband said last night, his mental age and thought processes seem to be that of a 12 or 13 year old boy.
  12. Deni D

    Deni D Active Member

    I guess in hindsight it makes sense he has separate counselors. Hopefully they communicate with each other. And hopefully he will be there long enough for him to get some benefit from the counseling.

    I think in a rehab situation the family counseling is because it’s seen that addiction is a family issue and for someone to really get better the whole family needs to be addressed, which makes sense. Actually it makes sense in my situation too, but without medication on my son's part he can't think clearly so for now it would be a real s*it show. The one on one counseling is just for the person with their issues around addiction.

    Just looking at it from my point of view I think I would be sure to let the counselor know yours was a single family household. In our case that was also true, and with no good male role model in my son’s life on a regular basis.
  13. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    Same here. I got him into scouting and tried other activities but he never had a stable male figure on a daily basis, as I rarely dated and never got into a relationship while he was growing up.
  14. Triedntrue

    Triedntrue Well-Known Member

    My reply was more to make sure the councelor understood that you did not agree . How can they treat him if his lies are not challenged. I do believe that they believe their own versions either because of faulty memory or willful manipulation. You can't convince them otherwise. Sorry i did not state this clearly.
  15. Crayola13

    Crayola13 Active Member

    I think he might be dwelling too much on his addiction. It's important to get treatment rehab, etc., but if it drags out too long, and the person doesn't have a job to occupy the mind, they think too hard. Thinking too much is dangerous. I really think if most people get settled into a job they like with healthy hobbies, they won't have as much time to think and dwell on things. It's hard to stop thinking about drugs when you don't have anything else going on. I'm just a big believer in activities and being busy. Being busy seems to often be a remedy for a wide range of problems.
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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I would very calmly tell the counselor that your son is rewriting history. That your husband used crack decades before you even met him and that your son is trying to use this as a weapon against you. I would also tell the counselor that your son is giving a very false picture of life in your home, and that you don't appreciate it. That he is trying to scam you with this cash app (it may very well be one where he can get into your accounts once you send him money. I don't know the app, but I do know apps like this are out there!) Make sure that both your son AND the counselor know that you will participate in therapy but the focus must be your son and his delusions about your life. If he cannot give up these delusions about your husband abusing you, and about trying to get money from you, then you won't be part of things.

    I know you want the best for your son, but he is triangulating here and he is misleading the therapist. Be very calm when you say these things. Let your son get all agitated. It will show the therapist the problem behaviors that your son has. Insist that your son support himself and NOT live with you when he gets out of rehab. If he doesn't have to support himself, he will have too much idle time to use and get into other trouble.

    Just my opinion, of course.
  17. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    I wouldn't worry about the counselor. They have likely heard it all and realize the place the addicts are coming from. A counselor won't get caught up in he said/she said because it doesn't serve any purpose or move things forward. They won't get bogged down in the details because it doesn't help anything. They know the manipulations and game addicts play and that addicts also try to deflect or may have been high and don't have a clear recollection of the situation.
  18. LauraH

    LauraH Active Member

    You're right, and I've pretty much decided not to schedule a second family session or try set the record straight with the counselor. If it was ongoing therapy I would, but he's only got two weeks left in rehab and will probably never see the counselor(s) again.
  19. RN0441

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


    I agree with the others. My son did that also. Said his dad was an alcoholic etc. at one time. Dad's an Irish Catholic drinker and at times drank more than I'd like but not out of control and has subsided with age. Now son says that no one in the home abused alcohol. So they do that to take the light off of them.

    Agree, good therapists have heard it all!

    Since your son is almost 30 I don't think I'd do any more family counseling personally. He's a grown man. Enough. He needs to work on HIMSELF. You and hubby have nothing to do with that. I agree that he should NOT live in your home anymore. He needs to be on his own, grow up and take accountability for his OWN life.

    Our son is 23 and with us again. He just signed up for welding/pipe fitting school which he hopes to get accepted to when it starts in June. As soon as he can support himself he needs to be on his own. He is not 23 mentally yet due to his drug use but he has to figure out his own life. We will be there for emotional support always but I do not, in any way, want to stand in the way of him growing up and being independent.

    I want my life back.
  20. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Hi Laura,

    Here's my take on this.
    I experienced similar things when my son, myself and husband attended family counseling when my son was still living at home. My son had a very warped view of our family life and would twist things around.
    One example: We as a family went to church every Sunday together. One Sunday my son refused to get out of bed. He was 11 or 12 at the time. I went to his room and pulled the covers off of him and told him it was time to get up and get dressed as there wasn't much time left to eat something before we went to church. My son cursed at me but did get up and get dressed although very slowly. By the time he was ready, there was no time for him to eat. We went to church and went out to breakfast afterwards.
    During our family counseling session my son told his "version". He told the counselor that I dragged him out of bed and forced him to get dressed. He then went on to tell the counselor that his "punishment" for not getting up on time was that we denied him food.
    I remember sitting there, my blood was boiling, I could not believe he was actually saying these things. It took everything in me to sit quiet. One thing I had learned from this particular counselor was that she was fair and I knew she would ask me for my side of the story.
    I learned to remain calm and not fly off the handle. I knew I would have the opportunity to tell my side of things. I by no means was a perfect mother. I made plenty of mistakes. There were times I would yell at my son out of pure frustration. He knew how to push my buttons.
    My husband and I met with the counselor privately without our son a few times and she explained that our son was trying to bait us into an argument. She said it's a very common tactic that children will use in a counseling session as they are trying to divert the focus off of them and onto the parents.
    Something that counselor told me has always stayed with me. "You know the truth and that should be enough" She was right.

    I believe your son is doing something very similar in trying to put the focus on you and your husband. It's so much easier to place blame on someone else than it is to take ownership of ones owns poor choices.
    It's like they're saying "Ya, well I might make mistakes but you made me this way"
    Regardless of how anyone is raised, it always comes down to the choices they make.
    My son still has tried to blame me and husband and I have thrown that right back at him. I've told him that he is an adult now, that he gets to start each day new. How he chooses to live his life is up to him and that I no longer have any influence over that.

    You are right to be suspicious of this. Doesn't sound right to me.

    I've been down this road with my son before. My suggestion is to let your son rant about how the app works, or whatever it is he's trying to convince you of. Then, you tell him, thank you for the information, I will think about it. Then, when he asks if you have an answer for him, tell him, I've given it some thought and I've made the decision to not to that.
    This way you have "validated" him but are also not giving into him.
    If he starts to harp on it asking - demanding to know why you won't do what he wants, you simply say, this is not up for discussion and you keep repeating that simple phrase. Don't let him drag you into a debate/argument. You do not owe him any kind of explanation.