Question: Dear Luise: My adult son, who is 32, has caused me so much pain and grief in the past few months that I am not sure what to do next. He has sole custody of his 8 year old daughter, he has no job and has been in and out of trouble for several years now always when he is drinking. He is totally out of control when he drinks. He spent 6 months in jail in last year for being drunk and spitting on a police officer. He has lived with my mother for the past 7 years because I won’t take him in and she always babies him and rescues him. I tried to force him to grow up but she always enabled him to be irresponsible. Sorry I am pointing fingers, now. Anyway in spite of his behavior my children and I were always close until the last 2 or three years. My daughter and I still are and she is a very sweet responsible adult. nothing like her brother. Well my son recently started acting very weird. I suspected bipolar or drugs. He was screaming and cussing at everyone telling all of us how stupid we were and how smart he was. He caused my mother to have to leave her home due to his verbal abuse. He was staying up all night talking 100 miles an hour saying his brain was going really fast. He was roaming around in the woods at night telling us he had taught himself martial arts and was a expert swordsman. He told my husband he was eating rotten food to strengthen his immune system. My daughter called me one day crying saying her brother was standing in the drive one day when she went to my mom’s and she asked what he was doing and he said “training”. He was just standing there saying “I’m not giving into the man I am not giving into the man”. Anyway, the whole family tried to get him to go for an evaluation from a mental health professional and he told us he was fine the rest of the world was crazy. So I took drastic action. He was really frightening all of us. To protect my granddaughter. I called a friend of his that is deputy sheriff to try and take him in for treatment. He tried to but couldn’t do anything because he had not threatened to take his own life or someone else’s. He said that was the only way he could take him for treatment. My granddaughter was with my sister when all this was happening. I had her pick her up from school. Between all of us we had her for about a week before we let him have her back, and only after his behavior was normal again. My husband finally went and picked him up and made him go to a mental health outpatient clinic for help and he goes weekly now, but would not have gone had he not been forced to, knowing child services would of taken his daughter and he would of probably ended up back in jail or worse. He has quit drinking. We feared he was not just drinking but was doing some kind of drugs. He seems quite normal, now, but he hates my guts for calling the sheriff on him and forcing him to get help. He called me yesterday and asked me to bring him by some stuff from the store. He also has no drivers license at the moment. I ams happy to help him anyway I can. Just before I left I asked if my granddaughter could spend the night this weekend. He glared at me with all the hate anyone could have and said “don’t ever send the sheriff out here again. The last time she stayed with you, you sent him out here.” I asked him why he had called me since he apparently hated my presence and he said he needed stuff. I told him I was leaving and was going to stay away from him since he hated me and that I was sorry. I was his mother and I loved him and cared what happened to him and my granddaughter. I am not going around him again. I was abused by my ex-husband and I refuse to take anymore abuse from someone I love and care for and make sacrifices for and, even to this day, would give my life for to save his. I do not intend to even speak to him. He called my cell phone about an hour after I had left the house and I would not answer and I didn’t call him back either. My husband is still helping him till he can get a job and stand on his own two feet, and my mother is moving to an apartment in town and we are getting him into a place of his own. We do feel like he is ill. He has to be if it wasn’t drugs. My husband told him he had to be off of all drugs and alcohol or we would take my granddaughter from him legally, yet he likes my husband. He is the only one he will let take him to his counselor appointments and seems to have a good relationship with him, at the moment. If I had threatened to take my granddaughter he would really hate me but he took it from my husband. I love him. I always will he is my son. I raised my kids by myself for nine years. We had wonderful times together. We backpacked together and always took at least a couple of their friends along. We were so close and now this has ripped us apart. I still think I did the right thing to call the sheriff and set everything in motions. I would do it again even if he does hate me. What do you think? Should I have just ignored the situation? Was I wrong? And am I wrong to choose to stay away from him and not talk to him? My heart is broken. Ann
Answer: Dear Ann: I didn’t condense your question because my answer is going to be pretty short.
You did the right thing and I think you know that. What you don’t like are the consequences. So often, people write me that they “have no choice”. We always have a choice…we just often don’t like the consequences. You are the exception…you did what had to be done, courageously, and it worked. Things are much better because of you. Your son, however, needs someone to blame and you’re it.
I suggest you keep your distance and let others deal with him and continue to support and direct him. You’ve let him know that you love him. If he ever recovers enough to love you back, you’ll be there for him and your granddaughter in a heartbeat. He knows that. Everyone knows that. In the meantime, focus elsewhere…no matter how hard it is to do that and make room in your life to let your broken heart heal. Blessings, Luise