What do you tell people?

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ChickPea, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. ChickPea

    ChickPea New Member

    I'm just curious how candid everyone is with their situation?

    I think a few years ago I held things closer to the hip and didn't want to disclose the tomfoolery that encompassed me every waking day. But, as I get older, as my kids get older, I feel a stronger draw to be more honest with people. In that, I'm surprised at what other will share with me regarding their own situations.

    Full disclosure - it's generally not nearly as deep as what I wallow in. Honestly, that makes me a bit sad. The closest I have to someone who has been where I've been is a friend who lost her son a couple years back to a senseless act of violence - nonetheless, his lifestyle fed into the predicament that ended his life.

    I try to be as matter-of-fact about things and not bash my kid for what's going on, but I also feel like I can't have meaningful friendships if I am constantly holding back on my situation.
     
  2. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    For me there are different levels of candid.

    Casual acquaintances know we have a son who is "working in X town" or "traveling" or "still searching," etc.

    People I consider good friends have been around long enough to know our back story. They ask specifically how his recovery is going and know whether he's IN rehab or BETWEEN rehabs.

    People I consider very close friends are the ones I can vent to. Still, they have a somewhat glossed-over version...as you said, generally not as deep as what the family knows and never as deep as the conversations I have with myself.

    That level of honesty with close friends has backfired on me too -- some well-meaning close friends take it upon themselves to help "save" our son by offering suggestions we tried...oh...about 10 years ago and several times. Once, after my son walked away from his 3rd rehab and his father pulled him out of a meth house (twice, in one week), my best friend told me she was afraid my son was "maybe getting a little too involved with drugs." Gee, you think, Captain Obvious?!?
     
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  3. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    I tell people only what I want them to know. Tell most of my story in Al Anon
     
  4. ckay87

    ckay87 New Member

    I have a circle of friends who have high-achieving offspring. That's the best way I can describe it. My parenting experience is the polar opposite of theirs. We can't relate on that topic. So I struggle with this often. When talking about my upcoming move, I get "oh I'll be so sad when my Matthew doesn't live with us anymore." For example.

    My go-to way of describing my situation is to laugh about it. I just told a story to a co-worker now about how last night I found my garage padlocked shut (as it should be) but son has completely lost the key. And now I can't mow. And the grass is a foot high. And I don't know what to do. Telling the story, I'm like .... SMH, hahaha, oh boy, LOL. But inside I'm a panicked mess.

    In a nutshell, I mostly CAN'T talk about my sons. There's nothing to say. Nobody can relate. It's a reflection on me (people who haven't been where we are 100% believe that we completely control how our kids turn out, you can't tell me otherwise). And now I'm all weepy because I DID have 2 cute little boys who I read to and took to playgrounds and vacation and snuggled and giggled and did crafts. And I led Boy Scouts and taught Sunday School and volunteered at school.....

    And now it's like they didn't even exist because I can't talk about them.

    I came on here this morning to ask this very question, so thank you for letting me vent. I'm having a hard day already.
     
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  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    I am pretty open with most people. I am less open when I run into people who are parents of my sons classmates when he was in school. Then I say something pretty casual. But in general I have found when I am open I hear stories from people about people in their lives who have also struggled with addiction. Many many people have this experience to some extent. I have one friend, who is now a very good friend, who when I casually made a comment about my son and going to alanon stopped in her tracks and said we have to talk because she also has a son with serious addiction issues. It made us fast friends because we know we can talk to each other.... although our friendship is much more than that and we actually dont talk about it all that much. The one thing I have a hard time is when people say “Im so sorry” or “I dont know how you do it”. I really dont want people to feel sorry for me or pity me. I have found a way to live my life and when they say stuff like that I feel like they understand the pain but dont understand how you can still live your life.
     
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  6. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    Other than close family members, I don't give too many details. I feel like all it does is "air my dirty laundry" to people who will then have something to gossip about to make their lives feel better. Pieces of my story definitely have trickled down through the family and so "they" know I have difficulties with the two sons but they don't know all the details and the longevity of time this has been going on. It was funny I met with three ladies from my church a few weeks ago for dinner and I was so nervous that they were going to ask me "where my sons were at in their lives". I worried thinking this and that and how would I handle it. As it turned out, I simply said something like, "well, I'm betting that we all wish our children were in a better place in their lives..right?" They all agreed and no one but one of the ladies discussed their adult children in any great length. The one lady that did discuss her adult children had so many great things to say about them (good for her) that I don't think she even noticed that the three of us had very little to no input. All that worrying for nothing. I also did recall someone on this forum saying that their response if asked how their adult child was doing was "they're doing the best they can right now". That's not a lie and really speaks the truth.
     
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  7. ChickPea

    ChickPea New Member

    Ditto.

    "Doing the best they can" - that is a good response.

    (((HUGS))) I understand where you are coming from.

    My situation with having the grandbaby full-time has forced my hand a little. I don't go into details (it's just too much), but I have been telling certain friends that my daughter is dealing with depression. People seem to understand that a little bit. But then some don't.
     
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  8. elizabrary

    elizabrary Active Member

    Well, I deal with it differently than most. I used to try to hide the mess my daughter's life was in. Then as I got healthier I realized I shouldn't have to hide her decisions, since in reality they are in no way my fault. So I started telling everyone the truth about what was going on. When my daughter first found out she was livid. I responded with, "You're doing it, so you must think it's OK." She didn't really have anything to say back to that. It was very freeing when I stopped trying to hide things and worrying about what people knew. I will also say that's kind of my personality anyway. I just don't give a f*ck what other people think so I do whatever I want. I figured that really people had probably heard something about what was going on with her, true or not, so I might as well give them the truth. And yes, it was also a way of putting it back in my daughter's face. Mind you I also put it out there when she is doing well. I bragged away about her when she got sober and as she has worked hard on her education. There's no one right answer. This slightly insane way just works well for me.
     
  9. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    I tend not to talk about my family. I am very private. I dont brag sbout my two youngest and there is a lot to brag about. I dont say much about Kay. I dont talk much about myself or husband. I listen well.

    I dont think my family is anyone's business. Even to some family that would judge if they knew. This is not right or wrong. It is just my personality. Kay wouldnt care if I told anyone anything and my youngest two and husband are very modest and also private.
     
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  10. Tanya M

    Tanya M Living with an attitude of gratitude Staff Member

    Great question!

    I keep my comments very generic with people I've just met.

    I'm a pretty private person by nature so I don't disclose a lot of details about my personal life. I have to know someone a while before I feel comfortable sharing the full story of my son. I have learned over time to be cautious with people as I have been burned. I shared with someone at work my son's story, thinking they were empathetic and for a moment, they were. Then I found out the story going through the "grape vine" was mine. I would walk into a room where other co-workers were and they would clam up. I knew they were talking about me. Another co-worker approached me to let me know people were gossiping about my situation and making speculations. I was deeply hurt. I felt ashamed. It took some time to work through those emotions but I learned a valuable life lesson and that's I will not share personal information unless I know I can trust the person.

    Whenever you meet new people, it's those "get to know you" questions. Do you have children? Like I said, I keep my comments very generic. If I come across someone who is really pushy and keeps the interrogation going, I am perfectly fine with telling them, "I'm not comfortable discussing this with you". I know I have put people off by doing that but it's okay. If people are meant to be in my life they will be and the only people I want in my life are those who respect my wishes.

    One thing I love about this site is the anonymity but also knowing I'm sharing with others who really get it and know what I'm going through.

    Trust for me is huge and once it's been broken, it's one of the hardest things to get back.
     
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  11. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    For me, as an introvert & highly sensitive person, I tend towards being private. If I am to share something intimate and important to me I have developed criteria over the years to protect myself. The most important is that I only engage in connections with others who I feel can be 'present' and 'see and hear' me with compassion and kindness. That cuts down the playing field considerably for me, in fact, I walked away from quite a number of relationships as I recognized that the folks surrounding me could not be present, empathize nor relate to me......which ended up being a very positive thing.

    I like the way Brene' Brown addresses this issue, she says,
    “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

    If I am asked how my daughter is by someone who does not meet the above criteria for me, I say, "she's still struggling." I have never once had anyone push beyond that, it seems to be a show stopper (which works for me). If it's a new person, I say, "my daughter struggles with mental issues." No one presses that one either.

    In my experience, except for this site or therapy or others who've gone thru what we go thru here, others just don't understand....can't put themselves in our shoes and empathize because they have no way of knowing what this is like. I just don't put myself thru any of that anymore, I want compassion & kindness and love.....which certainly reduced my circle of friends and family.....but I feel so much better now.
     
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  12. Nomad

    Nomad Well-Known Member

    Levels of candid...thank you Albatross...and ditto

    Many people I will tell about ADHD. A few more about ADHD and some health issues. Those two things together certainly can "explain away" odd behaviors. VERY very FEW will I tell about her mental illness diagnosis.
    I too say things like..."she is still struggling." Or I might remind them that she has a good heart, but still has issues that make life complicated. I can be vague. I like to remind them that she has a good heart. IT seems to take them away from any "anger" and a little more toward compassion. Some are a bit confused. Some, I suspect have basically figured it out on their own.

    As a side note...I'm a bit tired and a bit scared now that hubby and I are getting older and there is only a minuscule improvement. She truly is disabled. It's sad.

    Thank you for this, RE...it's very helpful/wise/appropriate:
    I like the way Brene' Brown addresses this issue, she says,
    “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

    Agree!!! However, I do find at times this burden great. IT's good to talk here, at times with a therapist, a VERY good friend who understands. The burden is tremendous and not everyone fully understands. BUT, like Brene Brown says...it's not for everyone to hear. I experienced deep pain when one of my friends actually took some sort of weird pleasure in hearing my stories about our Difficult Child. It seem to make her feel like her life was easier, so she wished to hear more and more from me for this reason. I didn't appreciate this. It made me feel horrible.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2019
  13. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    CKay87:" In a nutshell, I mostly CAN'T talk about my sons. There's nothing to say. Nobody can relate. It's a reflection on me (people who haven't been where we are 100% believe that we completely control how our kids turn out, you can't tell me otherwise). And now I'm all weepy because I DID have 2 cute little boys who I read to and took to playgrounds and vacation and snuggled and giggled and did crafts. And I led Boy Scouts and taught Sunday School and volunteered at school.....

    And now it's like they didn't even exist because I can't talk about them."

    Ouch. This is exactly where I am right now. I too, as did probably almost every single person on this site, once had a cute, sweet, lovable little boy with whom I read books, homeschooled, took to museums and on vacations, took to church, paid for his participation in church mission trips, and all those other parent things you do for your child. And now, I have a nearly homeless, angry, profane, deceptive person whom I no longer know. And it's almost as if the person he was doesn't exist anymore. He's dead. And when it comes to friends who have known us and him in the past...I've had to cut ties with those people because I can't handle the inevitable question, "How's Josh doing?" How do I answer that? It's too painful.

    I agree; some people definitely attribute how your child turns out to how you did as a parent, even if they don't say it out loud. It's there...hanging in the air. The burden IS tremendous. Most days, I feel like I'm carrying a huge boulder on my shoulder, trying to get it through life. The future looks pretty bleak right now.
     
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  14. JayPee

    JayPee Sending good vibes...

    I think we need to grieve the loss of which we always hoped we'd have. It's part of my problem of enabling.
    I remember my sons and the good times and laughter, the good boys they were and it's hard to forget that as mothers even when they do the wrong things.

    I pray all the time for them but also know that...The purpose of prayer is less to obtain what we ask than to "Become someone else". When we ask God for something, He transforms us, little by little, into people capable of sometimes doing without what we ask for.

    I have definitely seen this to be the case in my life. I prayed for 30 yrs. for my ex-husband to get sober. He still is not but in the interim God has changed me. I've been transformed, little by little even though I didn't get what I prayed for. Perhaps, this will be the case with my sons too.
     
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  15. Beta

    Beta Active Member

    JPG, I agree about prayer. I do pray much more than I would if I weren't going through this, and I have seen some change in myself, for which I'm grateful. It's just that the grief never goes away and rarely becomes less sharp. This is, by far, the most painful thing I have ever gone through in my 57 years. I boomerang back and forth between the typical stages of grief. Sorry to be such a downer today. Just venting.
     
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  16. RN0441

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

    Good thread.

    I struggled with this as well. I am a very open person and my husband is private. I wanted to and needed to talk about it so I chose going to a therapist as groups made me feel worse and more burdened. I know for some it is key but we are all different.

    I fortunately have some good friends I was able to talk to and they were sympathetic but didn't know much about all of it; nor did I. It helped to have some support but I was looking for facts because that is how I approach everything. Of course that didn't help either.

    I find myself in a bit of a pickle now when people ask. We moved to a new state for my job which was perfect timing actually. When son got out of his program in Memphis I told him to tell people he meets here that he just moved here from Memphis. No one really asks what he was doing there and he hasn't shared. I have not shared either except with one friend at work that used to work as a coach along with her husband at Celebrate Recovery (go figure). She is very understanding and knowledgeable and I do feel our meeting was divine intervention.

    I think we all have to do what we are comfortable with and what helps us.
     
  17. BusynMember

    BusynMember Active Member

    An added nasty issue people would bring up to me was "Well, maybe you really didnt love her as much as your other kids who are YOUR OWN" as though we loved her less for being adopted.

    This was NOT true! If anything she was special, our first. But so many people, family included, brought this up that I shut down even more.

    It is only since Kay's adulthood that we thought that much about her being adopted and thats because SHE brings it up.

    We also lost friends through the years and I decided that our lives are nobody's business. We use Al Anon and i have a therapist for venting. Thats all I will let in. I see no reason to tell others about my kids. Or myself and my husband. When others ask about my kids my default is to say "Oh, they are doing well, thank you. And yours?"
     
  18. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Wouldnt it be nice to just yell "You can't handle the truth!!!" in your best Jack Nicholson voice?? Ksm
     
  19. ChickPea

    ChickPea New Member

    I go back and forth in this manner a bit. Our city we live in is about 2 degrees of separation. I know some people know more than they say and ask leading questions to try to find out more. Most of it, they'll just have to guess. Besides, knowing more than you say goes both ways.
     
  20. RN0441

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

    But you know what? Everyone has their skeletons and some people hide everything.

    We all have our burdens in life. No one gets away unscathed!
     
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