Parent to adult son with CPTS diagnosis

SMM145

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Hello,
I’m looking for information, thoughts and suggestions. I’ve familiarized myself with this topic but always open to learning more.

I have a son in his early thirties who resides with my husband (his stepfather) and I. Currently unemployed as of a few weeks ago.

About 2 years ago he disclosed that he was molested by his father and paternal grandfather. This went on for a number of years. Of course unbeknownst to me as we were divorced when my son was about two years old.

He is in therapy with two therapists; a cognitive behavioral therapist and another trained/certified EMDR therapist. He’s been seeing the CBT therapist for 2.5 years and the EMDR therapist for 3.5 months. We have not seen any improvement. In some ways the EMDR seems to have made him worse. The CBT therapist has told my husband and I that these are “developmental wounds” and has pervasively and adversely affected his development and that he isn’t in his early thirties-in some ways he’s 18 or 19. Interestingly enough, he was diagnosed with “Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified” by a developmental pediatrician while in elementary school. Now we know why he was delayed in some areas! He did graduate from high school with far above average grades and very challenging courses. He has two college degrees.

He has no sense of self and I do mean NONE. He can be volatile, and has in the past, punched walls, slammed doors, shoved me around and general disrespect and disregard for myself and my husband, although I take the brunt of these things as he historically treats my husband better than he treats me.

He has had an addiction about t2 years ago and he was addicted to every substance known to man; Alcohol, food, marijuana, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, drugs, gambling, highly caffeinated energy drinks. We sent him to an addiction treatment program where he lived for a number of months. That was as I said 12 years ago and we do not see any signs of any of the aforementioned.

What we do see and his counselor agrees is an obsession or addiction to dating websites and apps. He spends an inordinate amount of time scrolling and trying to obtain dates. He has had a date at least once per week for 8 months. None of these dates have gone on to become a relationship, I think the most dates he had with one person was 3 or so. Always them telling him thanks but no thanks. He will go out with literally any woman who shows any interest in him. We have talked to him about the dangers and safety issues of meeting strangers-one time he met a woman at a hotel and didn’t even know her last name. His counselor was very very firm with him about these dangers. At one point a few weeks ago he was receiving threats on his life from these dating apps and we went to the police several times within a week and they told him to stay off dating apps and sites-it made no difference to him. He refuses to listen.

He also has had unprotected sexual relations with his previous girlfriend (they were together for 3 years-she has schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.) so that relationship was quite unhealthy. He got HPV from her and yet after crying about how afraid he was-he went right back to having unsafe sexual relations with her.

He has never had a healthy normal relationship. He has been told again and again.., and again that unless and until he adequately addresses the trauma he’ll never have a normal healthy relationship.

My heart is broken as you can imagine-it is beyond broken. His counselor told us that he is so adversely impacted by this that I’m some regards he is about 18 or 19. We told his counselor that we are concerned for his safety and our safety given the aforementioned. He said he isn’t ready to go off on his own yet-it would be disastrous and detrimental for him. We agree but the day will come that he’s going to have to leave-or we will be gone!

Any thoughts on any of this?
Thank you
 
Aloha!

As a supporter? Understanding this >>> The ptsd cup explanation <<< is both one of the most useful, and one. of. the. most. frustrating. things for when the people we love are losing their shit. And we see it happening. See it tee’ing up. And are powerless to get them to do what we so clearly see they need doing. Go for a run! Take a shower! For the love of Mike, do something to… kaBOOM!… Too late. >.<

But? It DOES allow for that same kind of mental/emotional distancing & not taking things personally that we did back when they were toddlers, and losing their shit. Why hello, tantrum. Yes, I see you. No, I don’t care. (Much. Unless I am ALSO having a bad day. In which case I’m gritting my teeth to avoid banging my own head against a brick wall.)

I have (combat) PTSD.
My 20yo son survived my terrible choice in (ex!)husbands.

Watching my kid suffer? Is by far the most brutal / painful thing I have ever experienced in my life.
 
congratulations on your first real post, smm. well done.

as both sufferer and supporter, my strongest suggestion is, "detach with love." detaching with love doesn't mean you throw the bum out. it means you recognize his need to take charge of his own recovery and are simply there for him without any manipulations to **fix** him. "ears open, mouth shut" is my personal favorite mantra for accomplishing this herculean task. since i am in therapy, myself, i can lean heavily on my own therapy support network for the spots where i, too, am affected by my loved one's trail of tears. my **kid** is now 43 and, as @Friday mentioned, watching my **kid** suffer is by far the most brutal/painful thing i have ever experienced.

but that is me and every case is unique.
steadying support while you sort your own case.
 
In some ways the EMDR seems to have made him worse.
Very common. Gets worse before it gets better. Trauma processing in particular can really knock a person around. I found inpatient treatment programs really helpful - providing a safe place to be completely dysfunctional!

He can be volatile, and has in the past, punched walls, slammed doors, shoved me around and general disrespect and disregard for myself and my husband, although I take the brunt of these things as he historically treats my husband better than he treats me.
Modelling healthy boundaries is actually incredibly helpful. Don’t be the punching bag. And very definitely, ptsd is not an excuse for violence.
 
Very common. Gets worse before it gets better. Trauma processing in particular can really knock a person around. I found inpatient treatment programs really helpful - providing a safe place to be completely dysfunctional!


Modelling healthy boundaries is actually incredibly helpful. Don’t be the punching bag. And very definitely, ptsd is not an excuse for violence.
Thank you for your reply-and thank you to everyone who took the time to read this post and give a thoughtful response.

Agree about boundary setting and are trying to figure out how to best do that-but you cannot say anything to him that he doesn’t want to hear and that makes it very difficult. For the moment we are trying to keep the peace until we figure out how to best address this without making it worse.

In the interim I have another question; Does anyone have any information as to how or if this dating app/site obsession and why he feels so compelled to find dates and a relationship? It’s like that’s his only focus in life. He is putting his own well being at risk, including his financial well being-he spends nearly all of his money on dates and always pays for everything on all dates. Even with his two previous relationships, both women made more than him and yet he always paid.

My husband and I and his counselor talked to him numerous times about sharing expenses, but he wouldn’t do that.

Both of those women were verbally abusive and one was also physically abusive to him-to the point that he came home all bruised with a bump on his head and we accompanied him to the emergency room. Yet the next day he was right back over to see her again-thankfully she broke up with him shortly thereafter because we found out she was trying to take his money and my husband called her!

Otherwise he wouldn’t have ended that relationship-he has never been he one do break up with anyone. He will tolerate any type of abusive behavior or unbalanced relationship with anyone just to have a girlfriend.
His counselor asked him a couple years ago what his boundaries are with women and his response was ‘I don’t have any boundaries.’ The counselor worked with him on setting appropriate boundaries but he doesn’t use them.

This counselor-I think is very good. My son has never complained about going to his therapists. This counselor has given him a lot of very good advice but he refuses to take any of it.
Thoughts or advice on any of the aforementioned?
Thank you!
 
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Sufferer here with a difficult message.

Your son is an adult and, hard as it is, you should be treating him like one. You don't get to critique his relationships. You don't get to critique his spending habits, and if he gets into trouble, you shouldn't be his safety net. If he treats you badly, you should be withdrawing.

It's incredibly difficult, especially since you feel guilty about not protecting him from the abuse. But the more you treat him like a little boy instead of the grown man that he is, the more he will act like that little boy around you, and I'm sure you're aware this isn't a healthy dynamic for anyone.

You are going to have to let him make his own choices and mistakes. You are going to have to let him fail and even hit rock bottom if that's what happens. As long as he has you to bail him out of his poor choices, he's never going to grow up.
 
Does anyone have any information as to how or if this dating app/site obsession and why he feels so compelled to find dates and a relationship?
When you ask him, what does he say? Seems like HE needs to wonder how useful his approach is and wonder where it's coming from before anything is going to change. He's not going to change anything unless he sees a reason to and that change for the better is an option.
that he isn’t in his early thirties-in some ways he’s 18 or 19.
That's an adult. At least it was where I grew up. When I was 18, I was responsible for myself, period, end of story. If he's functioning at the level of an 18 year old, he's got some growing up to do, and will no doubt make some mistakes, but he's able to make his own mistakes and deal with the consequences. If he's functioning at a level somewhere below that, he maybe needs some help to get caught up.
This counselor has given him a lot of very good advice but he refuses to take any of it.
My experience with therapy was that the most valuable thing my T gave me was insight. He gave good advice too, when I asked for it, but the biggest thing was he helped me sort out what was going on and the reasons for it. I'd say whether or not you son complains about his therapists doesn't matter as much as whether or not he's learning anything. It's probably hard to know that from the outside because they owe him confidentiality.
 
When you ask him, what does he say? Seems like HE needs to wonder how useful his approach is and wonder where it's coming from before anything is going to change. He's not going to change anything unless he sees a reason to and that change for the better is an option.

That's an adult. At least it was where I grew up. When I was 18, I was responsible for myself, period, end of story. If he's functioning at the level of an 18 year old, he's got some growing up to do, and will no doubt make some mistakes, but he's able to make his own mistakes and deal with the consequences. If he's functioning at a level somewhere below that, he maybe needs some help to get caught up.

My experience with therapy was that the most valuable thing my T gave me was insight. He gave good advice too, when I asked for it, but the biggest thing was he helped me sort out what was going on and the reasons for it. I'd say whether or not you son complains about his therapists doesn't matter as much as whether or not he's learning anything. It's probably hard to know that from the outside because they owe
We have asked him and so has one of his therapists-he doesn’t see anything wrong or risky with what he’s doing. The therapist told us that’s because he’s obsessed/addicted to it.

Yes it was the same with me at age 18 but things are much different today. The therapists both said that his issues are all caused by the sexual molestation. These are developmental wounds.

His counselor is excellent and has given him a lot of good advice and insight. But my son just is not taking any of his advice.
 
This is hard to write as it is hard for me to share. I have four children (now adults) and a few of them were molested by their biological father during visitation. When I found out it about broke me and definitely broke a few of the children. The path of healing started with pressing charges, a trial and a conviction. He was sentenced to 140 years with a maximum sentence for each count to be served consecutively. When he went to prison, the healing began as it was now safe and he couldn't threaten. What happened with his bio father and grandfather? Were there ever charges or at least a confrontation in regard to what was done?

The children did have therapy and one never admitted abuse and went through all kinds of addiction. He has gotten counseling and has been clean for four years, but whatever he is dealing with is between him and his therapist. Yes, I did have him leave the residence. My youngest daughter also had to move out for a while. I set strict boundaries and when they were repeatedly crossed, they had to leave and they knew the repercussions up front. One of the hardest things I had to do, but there was no way I was enabling addicting or controlling behaviors. They were all adults at this point and although they had no control over what happened when they were children, they did have control over their own actions as adults.

On the positive side, those that had to leave finally got the help they needed and took ownership of their own recovery. They are all now between the ages of 31 to 45, all employed, living independently, some are married and some have children. The cycle was broken and not that problems don't arrive, but everyone has the tools to deal with it, the support from family and their own therapist when needed.

No one should ever put up with violence direct toward them or property damage. From experience, that doesn't get better and does get worse. I understand the wanting to help, but there is a fine line between supporting and enabling. I don't mean this to sound harsh, but it comes from a place of concern and experience. Also, it would be of benefit to both you and your husband to have your own therapist. As a PTSD sufferer, I too had therapy and after a year, I was in a place where I could manage my own symptoms. Used a lot of CBT, but I was told not to do EDMR as the reliving of suppressed memories could do more harm than good. Just a thought.
 
Sufferer here with a difficult message.

Your son is an adult and, hard as it is, you should be treating him like one. You don't get to critique his relationships. You don't get to critique his spending habits, and if he gets into trouble, you shouldn't be his safety net. If he treats you badly, you should be withdrawing.

It's incredibly difficult, especially since you feel guilty about not protecting him from the abuse. But the more you treat him like a little boy instead of the grown man that he is, the more he will act like that little boy around you, and I'm sure you're aware this isn't a healthy dynamic for anyone.

You are going to have to let him make his own choices and mistakes. You are going to have to let him fail and even hit rock bottom if that's what happens. As long as he has you to bail him out of his poor choices, he's never going to grow up.
Thank you for your prompt response!
I agree to an extent and even his therapists said that they would be advising differently if circumstances were different. My husband and I are the only family he has and he doesn’t have a network. By that I mean a support system, friends-he has none. Not one friend.

I understand what you’re saying and I think that these are all great suggestions.

But I also know that “rock bottom” can mean 6 feet under.

I appreciate any and all thoughts here.
 
I really feel for you. You are between a rock and a hard place here. Unfortunately, until he wants help and is open to it, no amount of therapy - no matter how good he counsellor, is going to get through to him.

@somerandomguy has some really amazing and wonderful advice for you.

I would add, it’s perfectly acceptable for you to set boundaries around his bahviour under your roof. He can’t just crack off and destroy your property, and push you around and be abusive. It’s okay for you to say to him there are ground rules for staying here, and if you can’t stick to them then you’ll need to find an alternative place to stay. He is an adult, he can look after himself however much he doesn’t want to & you want to protect him.
 
But I also know that “rock bottom” can mean 6 feet under.
Yeah, that’s definitely my personal rock bottom. It was incredibly painful for my supporters when that became apparent for them.

But the distressing thing isn’t just that that’s the rock bottom.

The distressing thing is the only person who can stop that happening is your son. No matter how hard you work, he is the only one who determines whether he heals from this or not.

If that’s the direction things are going? It’s time for inpatient care.
 
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