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How can I bear to watch my son ruin his life with alcohol?

I recently joined this group and really need someone's real world advice.  My son has ptsd with severe panic attacks.  He numbs himself with alcohol.  He is in great emotional pain but will not listen to his father and I.  He lost his wife and child (sometimes I think the ptsd was from her, not Iraq) a year and a half ago and has not recovered from losing his little boy. 

He was born into the Mormon church, but I left it 25 years ago, so he has never had the benefit of knowing what a church family is.  He is killing himself, and I am slowly dying inside.  I feel like I can't live or even move when he is in this state.  He is in denial and then he feels sorry and tries all over again.

  I am a loving (my family says too much) mother who has never ever been able to turn my back on him.  He has tourettes syndrome and has had a very difficult life socially.  At what point, if any, do I turn my back and tell him he is not my son anymore?  I mean this is killing me watching him kill himself.  I think I want to say it because I feel like I'm drowning and I can't do this.  I need advice with love.  I finally told him today not to contact me anymore and that he was a selfish liar.  I feel horrible for saying it, I am his only friend.  He won't go to AA, he has been in treatment two times this year. 

It is God who he needs, but he won't humble himself.  He says he loves God, and God loves him, but it is personal.  He has never been able to sit through a church service comfortably because of his muscle movements and noises which are called tics.  How do I get through to him 

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15 Comments about "How can I bear to watch my son ruin his life with alcohol?"

said this on 30 Aug 2009 10:07:43 AM CDT
Dear Bill, How can I be a beacon of light when my son is causing such pain? I have a real problem with codependency. He is our only child, and I am twin. There you go, there you see why I don't have an identity of my own. You say we cannot partake of this eternal reward without all of us being together. That's a lot of pressure when we are also individuals who have our own free agency. Am I to look at my family in such a way that my salvation or eternal rewards depends on them? I am a mess because I can't see my son without myself, and I can't see me within myself. I haven't contacted my bishop....don't know if I even have one. I am not on the church's roles anymore. I wasn't excommunicated, as far as I know, my name was just removed. My husband doesn't want me to return to the church. This may be a path I travel alone. My son grew up hearing me tell him the church was wrong. I've done this to myself. I have started reading the Book of Mormon again, but my testimony is far from returned. I still have many doctrinal issues. But one thing I know for sure, and that is the community of fellowship is nowhere else to be found. Yet the pressure when you are active and no one else is in your family is great, and do I need that pressure? I have talked with my husband. I feel like I can't live days like this with his work schedule so severe, and to feel so alone. My family is in California, and I am contemplating going there to live. Not a separation, I love my husband. But he sees how on the edge of destruction I am, and how I can't watch this. But before I do, I will go to talk to someone. I already know what he'll say. My place is here with my husband. We aren't from here, and I feel like a stranger in a strange world, circling, trying to find my place. You know, if my son had a wonderful woman in his life, someone to hold him and tell him all would be well, the burden I feel would at least be shared. Maybe you could also pray for that? I told him there was an Adult Singles activity at church the other night. He thinks I'm speaking a foreign language after all these years of swearing I'd never go back to Mormonism. He also refuses to go to a public place because of his panic attacks and severe depression. He says he feels like the whole world is caving in on him. That's the PTSD. There are so few Mormons who know this type of "real life" horror. If they do, they don't seem to share it. Well, this is all for now. Thank you for your prayers.

Bill Willson
said this on 31 Aug 2009 3:37:54 PM CDT
The only way I know of being a beacon light is to set a goal and then leave a trail of good work and example for your son to follow. I have a daughter who was inactive for eighteen years.
we had completely lost contact with her up until 20 days after we received our call to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo Utah and 4 months before my wife and I were to leave our home for two years. When she saw us she said she was tired of her way and wanted to try it God's way. In that 4 months we got her 4 kids taught and baptized, and helped her get established in the church and community. Eight months before we completed our mission, she and her kids were sealed in the Temple to her husband and they became an eternal family.

As far as your family's involvement in the eternal aspect of life, you are right, they do have their own individual agency. No one, not even God can force anyone to partake of Eternal Life. All we can do is teach, and explain and make sure their earthly ordinances are in order before the last day. Then it is entirely up to the individual to accept or reject.
The choices we make are entirely our own and we only have to reap the rewards or consequences for what we did or didn't do with our own agency.

Everyone has a bishop. What a lot of people do not understand about the church is that a ward is a geographical area within the church (world) and the bishop of each ward is responsible for the spiritual well being of everyone who lives within the boundaries of his ward.
I would suggest that you get out the telephone book for your community and look up "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Call one of the numbers listed there, and tell the person who answers your name, where you live, and that you want to embrace the church once more. They will help you, if you truly want to be helped.

As far as you being the only one in your family who is a member, well, all I can tell you is that you are not alone. This is hard, but it is doable.
Heidi, it might comfort you to know that I am the only member of the church in my birth family. I am the son of an alcoholic father who left us when I was 5, and died when I was 11. I never saw him after he left, only his ashes that were sent home to us. I am an alcoholic myself, but I haven't had anything stronger than diet Pepsi to drink for 49 years. I had all my immediate departed family's temple work done for them ten years ago. Now it is up to them to choose. I know they are being taught in the spirit world, and I hope they accept the plan of salvation.

I know the gospel is true, and beyond that, nothing else matters. You don't have to be responsible for the choices made by your family, you just need to make sure you give them a good example to follow, and that they have the correct choices before them when they make up their own minds about the path they choose to follow. Be sure that the choice you make regarding your own path is based on the love you have for your family, and your Savior and God His Father.
Just take this journey one step at a time, and remember the final destination is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice.
You are ever in our prayers.

Bill Willson
said this on 28 Aug 2009 2:20:51 PM CDT
Heidi: As his mother you two share a tie that will forever bind you together, and that tie can never be spiritually severed. He is your flesh and blood, your special gift from God, and God will help you, if you ask him, to be a beacon light to guide your wayward son on the path that will help him to return to live with his Father in Heaven. Your son needs you and part of the measure of your creation is to provide the support and love that he needs to survive and make it home to His Father's kingdom
He is so blessed to have a mother who can point the way and give him a path of light to follow. Let the church guide you, so you can guide him, and the two of you will make it together. He may even end up helping you in the end, nevertheless together you can make it if you put your trust in Jesus, and the Holy Priesthood of God.

Heidi ( Author/Admin)
said this on 29 Aug 2009 10:56:39 AM CDT
thank you for your comment. Today as we speak I have no idea where he is, if he is drunk, on the road, or if he is safe. Oh, the pain is unbearable. And to add to this the only way I can see my grandson is through him. If only you had known my son before the war. He was a survivor, someone who could handle the taunts of the world because of his Tourette Syndrome because God gave him a good personality. Iraq stripped him of his personality, his confidence, his belief in himself. So I cry all day and all night. I hope I will be brave enough to face all my questions about returning to mormonism. I need help, I need belief that God loves my son. I don't care about me. This has almost killed me.
Keep Praying for me

Heidi ( Author/Admin)
said this on 29 Aug 2009 10:58:22 AM CDT
Bill, I just want to thank you and ask if we can keep up the dialogue. I have cried a river of tears of three days. My son has no one to turn to. I am this close to contacting the bishop. Though I left the church many years ago, I am none too proud to search anywhere I can for help. I need your advice, your prayers. When my son returns from wherever he is, I do not know how to to answer his calls. He is always sorry, he is always promising it won't happen again. When he is alone with no friends or other family around, I and his father are his only contact. I wrote a text msg to him. I told him I was done. But then I've cried for three days. He has been in treatment three times in one year. He suffers from Tourettes Syndrome and he uses too much of the medicine they give him to control the spasms in his body. He is a mess. Underneath that he is a kind, funny, good man who served his country and came home with ptsd. came back to a wife who almost ruined his mind. He has a sweet two year old we got to see in Colorado two weeks ago. It was heaven for us. But we left and my son came home to nothing, and took up the bad stuff again. I feel like I can't do it anymore. But inside I crumble. Let's keep up the dialogue, ok? I asked him if I could send missionaries, he said no.
Thanks for your time.

Bill Willson
said this on 24 Oct 2009 3:59:20 PM CDT
Heidi, What has happened to you? I haven't been checking this very often, because I have been recuperating from neck surgery. I was saddened to see that you seemed to have dropped out of sight. I hope you are still seeking to return to activity. If you really want to do all the things you have said, you need to have faith and respond to what our prophet has said "COME BACK!" The Lord Loves you and the only way He can truly bless you is when you are being obedient to His word.

said this on 03 Nov 2009 12:35:55 PM CDT
I have been in California taking care of my elderly parents. I drove from Alabama to California, knowing I would be gone for quite some time. I am back at home (temporarily) and will return in a week to continue to care for them. I will be more vigilant about trying to find a place that I can use my laptop. My parents don't have email access in their home, and it's hard to get out. I want you to know I am re-reading the Book of Mormon and praying for a testimony. The thing is, when I lost it, I lost it big. I persecuted the church, and now it's hard to not have all those anti-mormon ides pop into my head when I read and struggle with mormonism vs orthodox christianity. I am a reader, I can't say that's always a good thing. I have always been a deep deep searcher for truth. I can only be truthful with you and ask you to continue to pray for me while I search. And thank you for your vigilance.

Bill Willson
said this on 04 Nov 2009 4:17:36 PM CDT
I'm glad you're reading the BOM again. This is the key to conversion. This book is what convinced me. It had to come forth in just the way Joseph described it. If not, then we have to believe a relatively unschooled young farm worker was able to write 1000 years of the history of an unknown race of people, and that this history has withstood i80 years of scrutiny by some of the most learned scholars in the history of the world, without one single one of them finding any fault that survived the test of time.
Then there is the powerful statement by the young Joseph himself. Quoted from PoGP Joseph Smith history ch.1 verses 23-25.
"It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
“ However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”
I first read these 48 years ago right after reading the BOM the 1st time. I felt the Spirit, I think for the very first time in my life, and it testified to me that this was truth, and the Book of Mormon is the word of God.
I wish you well in your search, and pray that the whisperings of the adversary will have no influence on you as you seek to find your way back into God’s Kingdom.
Sincerely, Bill Willson

Bill Willson
said this on 29 Aug 2009 2:46:05 PM CDT
Heidi; At this time in his life your son needs you more than at any other time save at his birth only. You say you want to return to the church and your faith, and I am assuming you want the gospel for your son as well. Remember, families can be forever. We are all God's eternal children, and his work and his glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of ALL mankind (Moses 1:39. We are all sinners. Paul said,
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am [and each one of us are] chief." 1 Tim 1: 15. [added]
Christ is savior to all. His resurrection assures us of immortality, and his atonement coupled with our individual acceptance assures us of a chance for Eternal life with him and his father in God's kingdom in heaven. We cannot partake of this kind of an eternal reward without our family.
These are just a few church doctrines that you need to keep in mind as you try to reunite yourself with the Church.
I strongly advise you to seek council from your bishop. Also, if you don't already have one be sure and ask your bishop to make sure you are assigned to a faithful home teacher.
You will need all the strength you can muster to be the beacon light your son needs right now. You have to show your son the way, and never give up on him. Do not give up on yourself either.
You are in our prayers and I will always try to help you understand and know the truthfulness of the gospel.
This church is true, Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet, the book of Mormon is the word of God, and we have a living prophet at the head of the church today. Of this I bear solemn witness, in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

said this on 25 Sep 2009 2:48:00 PM CDT
Dear Heidi,

I just stumbled across your post and my heart went out to you. A couple of years ago my son was diagnosed with ADHD. He is much younger than your son, but it was a frustrating and overwhelming time in our family. Before he was diagnosed, we tried so many different things to help. To make a long story short, we worked with several doctors and ended up taking a class that helped us to understand what was happening in his mind. At the class we were able to talk with other people going through the same struggles. One of the people that we talked with said if she could do it over again with her child she would make sure that he always knew that she loved him.

Don’t ever give up on your son. You may need to set some boundaries. Talk to your or your son’s doctor about group support for him and/or you and your family. Sometimes medication can be helpful too. After taking the class we did, and you may already know this, we learned that if your brain chemistry is off it can affect so many different areas in your life—anxiety, depression, turrets, etc. It can be helpful to learn about these things and talk with people who are also struggling also.

Also, never hesitate to ask for Heavenly Father’s help. While you are on the path to helping your son, you will be guided to the right people, or someone may cross your path with something that can help. Miracles can and do happen. Hang in there and know that you are not alone.

All the best to you,


said this on 06 Oct 2009 8:32:54 AM CDT
Dear Heidi, my heart goes out to you in the struggle facing you regarding your son. My advice is what I try to do in my life. I love my son, unconditionally but with boundaries, who has been mentally ill since a childhood illness and is "disabled."

Remember that he is not unwilling but unable, to do some things that we consider normal, sane or logical. Sometimes I think Satan is using him to try and pull me away from God, the Church and isolate me.

Please, do not withdraw from the only help you can truly receive which is from God and the Savior and the strength from the Church and members. Try not to despair, in the November Ensign there is an article that helped me "Truth & Lies" and speaks of what you are going through separate from what your son is going through.

You are a good mother and the best thing you can do is set an example for your son, pray and turn your son over to God and His care, trust that your son will have the Savior walking beside him until he turns and embraces him, which may not be during this lifetime but eventually and eternally he will always have the choice to cross over to God's path.

said this on 30 Oct 2009 11:43:55 AM CDT

My heart also goes out to you, I am a mother of three young children and I can understand your absolute love for your son. He knows it. He knows it. Pray. Pray without ceasing. If you come back to the church, open the Book of Mormon and pray the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, will help you bear your burden. Let the Savior help you carry this sorrow. The wonderful Atonement that Jesus Christ wrought on the cross not only covers our sins, but also our sorrows. He loves your son and he loves you and surely he is weeping with you over your sons choices. Go to the Bishop, or the Missionaries. They will help you find your way to the Savior's love.

said this on 03 Nov 2009 12:51:15 PM CDT
Wow, thank you all for such comforting words. They really touched my heart. Continue to look for me, as I will try to sign on while I am away taking care of my mother and father. I do want you all to know that I have been so blessed in the last two weeks: I was able to pick up my only grandson, my son's little boy, in Denver, we flew back to Alabama, and you should have seen my son's face when his little one flew into his arms! It is an absolute miracle they they have never lost their bond. We make sure we fly to Denver any time my son's ex-wife will let us see our grandson, and always bring our son. This time, my son seems to be so much more balanced and emotionally present. He is exercising, he is trying to do what is right and I thank God and all your prayers for that. I will be leaving to go back to CA this weekend. My son will be alone for a couple of weeks. Prayer warriors, unite! I pray for him to find a beautiful (in the soul) woman who loves him unconditionally and can help him truly come back to God. I am re-reading the Book of Mormon (like I said) and praying to gain my testimony back. It's a long road. I have many questions still, and questions that can either be answered by a true theologian or the Holy Ghost. Either one will do.....

said this on 03 Nov 2009 2:02:06 PM CDT
You'll be in my prayers!

Bill Willson
said this on 04 Nov 2009 4:26:22 PM CDT
The true theologian hasn't a chance against the Holy Ghost. When we study and pray in faith He will always teach and lead us in the correct path. Glad to hear the good news. Hang in there!

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