First, let me say I can imagine how overwhelming this situation must be for you. You have whole sorts of emotions running around inside of you. Some of them are current, some from Ben's youth. Some are about your husband and daughter and their needs. Some about your own safety. And they are all running around together responding in different ways and pulling in whole sorts of directions. And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. You are clearly a loving and caring person. You have a stable marriage and another child, a daughter. You have a life. You also have a hole in your heart. And you are trying to fill it up. Those are all the emotions I was talking about above.
So, I need to say something that is going to be hard. I want you to therefore print out my answer and discuss it with your husband. Because I'm going to be open and honest with you and he is your support. So I'm answering you because I'm counting on that, okay?
That hole in your heart is a precious, gentle, delicate place. It has been there now most of Ben's life. You have not shuttered it up and that's beautiful. BUT, it's a gentle, delicate place.
You have NO way to help Ben. This is the truth. You do not have the skills nor the training nor the expertise. You didn't have the skills when he was a child. You don't have them now. Your emotions are circling around one key emotion: guilt. "Maybe I could have done something to prevent this."
It is true. Maybe you could have. MAYBE. But you're old enough to know that anything that happens is subject to MAYBE. Maybe 9/11 could have been prevented if.... But it couldn't. Why not? Because we all did the best we could with what we knew at the time and the skills we had. This is your story as well. You did the best you could for Ben with the skills you had.
You cannot let this emotion dictate your life. Because it will not help Ben one iota. He is in his own dark hole. He is in the justice system and they haven't been able to help him. That tells me as a professional that he hasn't sunk as low as he needs to in order to be willing to get help. And you know that is the starting point.
So, you are allowed to be in phone contact with him. That's it. He is dangerous and you have an obligation: you MUST model for Ben what normal behavior is like. And normal behavior means that if he asks to see you, it will be only a supervised visit, meaning in a place where if he attempts to hurt you, there will be capable intervention on hand. Otherwise phone contact only. Again, the key is that you must model for him normal behavior. It is not abandonment. It is modeling normal behavior he must accept. And you can tell this to him.
If you can get him to go to Alcoholics Anonymous in your phone conversations, fine. You might yourself want to join an Al Anon group. That's the part of AA for families. I am suggesting this for support for you. Not all meetings are the same. So if you don't hit it off with one group, find out where there's a different meeting. Here's the meeting locater:
I wish you the very best!
Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX