I've written a little in the past about my 36 y.o. stepson, and things seems to have come to another head... Not in his relationship with us (which is actually pretty good) but in his life, which is a MESS.
First, some background. There seems to be a lot of undiagnosed mental illness on BioMom's side. I say this because of what I've seen, heard, and from the #1 cause of death on that side of the family which is, by far, suicide. Great Grandpa went out in a blaze of glory - don't know exactly how, but it was considered a 'fitting end' to his larger-than-life existence. Grandpa was an incredibly charismatic man elevated to mythical status -- a John Wayne / James Dean-style living legend. No one was tougher than Grandpa, a hard-drinking man who could whip three strong men in a bar fight and often did. Grandpa was (to them) a HERO and an inspiration -- even after he shot up on heroine, locked himself in a closet and blew his brains out. (BM's family STILL worships the ground he walked on!) Two of Grandpa's brothers committed suicide by 18-wheeler (walked calmly out in front of a speeding truck) within a week of each other. Even BioMom's got three pretty good suicide attempts under her belt that I know of, plus probably a few more half-hearted ones I don't know about.
And bottom line, Hubby and I both think SS plans to continue 'the family tradition' in the not too distant future. Yes, he views it that way - maybe more like a romanticized 'destiny'...
SS has been messing up his life ever since he was old enough to do it. Financially, legally (continuing the family tradition of bar fights and DWIs), interpersonal relationships, career-wise (what career?). He makes virtually every self-destructive decision possible -- and he knows it! (and admits it) Yet he feels helpless to change.
SS has frequently reached out for advice -- but has yet to follow any of the good advice, seeming to follow only his mother's histrionic example. His mother has bailed him out countless times and offered tons of emotional snap-judgement, ill-considered suggestions. His uncle (BM's brother - who escaped his family and found stability) has bailed him out countless times and offered tons of very sound advice. His younger sister has also bailed him out frequently and offered really good advice from a young person who 'gets it'. (Adversity made her stronger and smarter.)
And of course, we have too. SS loves his father, looks up to him, and considers him a friend and mentor. (Of course, I strongly suspect that there are lots of other mixed up feelings in there also -- including rage, abandonment issues and a frustrated inability to live up to Dad's example and high standards.) He's lived with us trying to get out of debt. (Whee! No rent - More spending money!) He's worked for Dad when he couldn't find anything else. (Nobody pays enough!) We've allowed him to use (morphed into giving) our vehicles after he wrecked his own or they were repoed, and bailed him out of financial mess after mess, while urging prudent budgeting and cost-cutting. We've even paid for psychological counselling for two different stretches. The counselor (who we had met with previously to discuss our own part in the SS mess) said she couldn't disclose specifics, but shook her head sadly and said "It's a big mess", implying it was even worse than we knew/know.
Now SS finds himself in another crisis and seems unable to cope. This particular crisis involves losing his house -- He's upside down on the mortgage, couldn't really afford it to begin with, and went through an UGLY breakup with the girlfriend he bought it with. She wants to see him go down in flames and is doing her best to make it happen. (He moved in new 22 yo still-married to someone else GF and her 3 yo son, so it's hard to blame old GF for being that mad.) Then there's his job -- which is going nowhere because "the boss is a jerk" who "doesn't appreciate everything SS does". (Yeah, maybe) And even his new little GF seems to be losing her starry-eyed wonder when he can't even come up with $50 for dinner out and a few cheap kiddie toys.
According to all who know him, he's reached the end of his rope. (Word has it he took an overdose of pills last week -- not enough to kill him, but a 'cry for help' OD.) His 'stable' friends have long since drifted away, leaving only his reckless bad-influence friends and family. But it seems like everyone who has supported him and tried to help in the past is ALSO at the end of their ropes with his decades' worth of continuous bad choices -- including us. Hubby is so worried he spent last night mentally writing his son's eulogy.
So what do we do?
- Tough Love? (What would that be here?)
- Nothing, and wait for the seems-inevitable 'Thelma & Louise' ending?
- Bail him out again? (SS still spends more than he earns and has already had one bankruptcy.)
- Urge counselling (We already have. He 'can't afford it' and even the counsellor he saw thought he was hiding much more than he told.)
- Baker Act him? (I don't think we have enough evidence to force it, plus I don't see a short commitment helping change a lifetime of poor choices.)
Are there any options we're missing?