My son left. I asked him to.

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Copabanana, May 11, 2016.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Cedar posted a talk today Bryn Breene. What is her name?

    The gist of what she said was this: boundaries in life are absolutely essential. All a boundary is is what is OK and what is not.

    She said she used to be loving and generous to a fault. And then, resentful and hateful, and blaming. She says she felt others "upset her on purpose."

    She thought about it and came to the question, "What if people are doing the best they can? I will never know or not if people are doing the best they can. But my life is better by assuming they are trying their best."

    She summed up: "generosity is a gift to oneself." And generosity requires boundaries. Today she is less sweet, more compassionate. She believes that true compassion, an open heart, requires boundaries. She believes empathy can be taught.

    We bought this house because M knew I could not live with my son...or more to the point...he can't live with me. He saw over a period of years how sick I got around him. How my spirit was crushed, my health was sapped.

    But he saw how much it cost me to turn my back entirely. It was half of a life. Half of a self. For better or worse, my son is part of me; my story; maybe the best of it. My joy.

    So that house was a way to have him near, to continue to teach him, to keep me alive and whole. For me, for better or worse, I will not be alive and fully me, without my son in my life.

    I lived nearly a whole life separated from my parents and my sister. When my mother died, I almost did, with her. To live my life, I had denied myself a family. I did not know what it had cost me until it was over. I do not want to live the rest of what life I have left, in this same way, missing an arm, a leg, a heart.

    I will learn, as did Brene, how to have boundaries and a full heart too. She says empathy can be taught. Research has told her this. I will see how.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  2. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Well, I hope he is not holding his breath.
    He is feeding us. We do not have to swallow. (It is getting kind of stinky in here.)
    Yes. Then, let him decide now what next. He is the one out in the cold, not me.
    More like a conveyor belt. He can get on or off. If he stays off he is on his own again. He keeps thinking he can sabotage the line. And with that, work will stop. Or he will get more pay or benefits. The line is not stopping.

    He works on our terms, or he is out in the cold.
  3. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think most of our kids have the same placard and marching orders.

    Unfortunately their version of adulthood has the freedom and autonomy part down waaay good, but not much else. OK. Fine.

    Just like toddlers. "No!" Who are unable to dress or feed or clean themselves. So our kids have the toddler version of emancipation down pat.

    Unfortunately at 21 or 27 or 34, more is required. They are mystified why it is not working for them. I think they lack the skill set.

    They know they need to separate from us and to be independent, but do not get the rest. I really think (after reading the Brene Brown post) that they do not have what it takes...and are doing the best they can. Most of them. I think that of my son. I do not think he chooses to be the :censored2: that he is. Put a better way, he chooses it because he does not yet see better options. Yet.

    My son was in an orphanage without a mother or father or family until he was 22 months. When he was supposed to be a 2 year old saying "no" he was learning to talk, making up for lost ground, and learning to have a mother. How could it be easy, now? When he was not able to get it right the first time?

    Anybody here who wants to lecture me about attachment disorder, I do not need to hear it again. You have already told me and I do not buy the immutability of development. It is not over until it is over. That is what I believe. You may disagree but please do not share this particular thing. It hurts me when you do.

    Please. I do not mean to be rejecting or harsh. On the contrary. I am grateful for the support and care. But I do not want to be hurt, either.

    My manifesto.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  4. Ironbutterfly

    Ironbutterfly If focused on a single leaf you won't see the tree

    I too was in an orphanage at age 3, left there by both mother and father for two years until grandparents stepped in and adopted us. I had rough beginning, but through the hardships and struggles I have a good life for the most part. Of course, heartache of having a son who doesn't want his life to change for the better. It's his life. His walk.
  5. Albatross

    Albatross Well-Known Member

    No, I did not mean anything you said, Copa. I was referring to my posts about "earning" rent for volunteer work of his choosing, gifts for jobs around the house, etc. In light of the note he left you, these suggestions strike me as very much encouraging the "Peter Pan" syndrome that he needs to overcome.

    I think maybe it is me; maybe we each bring "stuff" to what each other is going through, but when I read about the note your son left you, I felt so angry.

    I remember once my son wanted to check out of a rehab program early. I could not stop him from doing so, but I told him if he did, he could not come home to live because I knew nothing would change. His response was to ask me about what led up to my brother's suicide, and how guilty I must feel, and how my son knew just how my brother must have felt.

    Why this kind of cruelty, Copa? Where do they get off being so MEAN, just because we are expecting them to put forth even minimal effort to just earn a tiny slice of their keep?

    I don't want to break the little CENSORED icon, so I will stop now. But that is what I was apologizing for.
  6. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Copa, I believe that about my daughter too. Whatever is broken or wounded or whatever inside of her, she is just not wired the way most of us are. Judging her and being angry and resentful and trying to "fix" or enable her didn't work. Ultimately, I had to develop the 'radical acceptance' idea, that in reality, how she is or what she could or couldn't do, is irrelevant because the bottom line is that I am powerless to change it. G-d bless her, but she doesn't believe there is anything the perhaps for her, there isn't.

    So then it was about me. And what Brene Brown said, figure out what works and what doesn't and state those boundaries. I did that. And it changed. For me, it was all about what I was willing to do and what I wasn't willing to do...... it started to become simpler then. But along the way, as you are.....and most of us here.......I suffered the agonies of the damned.............

    I'm so sorry Copa, the anguish we go through with our kids is......well.......there are really no words, are there? As Cedar once said, "it's a devastation like no other." But, we can learn, even in this harsh and dark environment, we can learn to set boundaries, to give up control, to accept what is and to let're doing that Copa, you really are......

    Be angry. He screwed up a good deal. He may not have the skill set, but he can learn to NOT harm you, to NOT be such a baby, he can learn to act in ways that are respectful and caring towards YOU. What he does with the rest of it is his.......what he does with you will be about the behaviors you accept and the behaviors you demand.
  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I would say I am sorry, but that would be inappropriate. More apt, you are amazingly victorious.
    No it is not.
    Of course you did.
    Mine too.

    They always want us to hold the bag, don't they? Be the safety net.

    Last night my son was lamenting lost friendships. Actually, two long-time supports said no more. Adios Amigo. What took so long?

    I told M, who was disgusted and perplexed. What about you, what about regret for what he causes you to suffer, what about awareness of your mortality, that he will lose you?
    My son did a version of this, too.

    Not long ago I set a boundary with him. My son retorted in an authoritarian and punitive voice without blinking an eye, "I am not your father who abused you, Copa."

    At some point in his life, I told him a story about my life never in my wildest dreams believing he would use it to attack me.
    I was stunned. Where did this cruelty come from? What had I ever done to deserve this, except love him with all of my heart?
    I think it is not about retaliation for what we ask of them.

    I think it is:

    *self-control through trying to control us
    *dominance, power over
    *trying to get their problem in us
    *trying to distance themselves from their feelings
    *trying to distance themselves from their feelings for us.
    *fill in the blank ____.

    I think it is like Brene Brown says. They are doing the best they can, with what they have got. The main thing they have got is us. Which is no solution at all, because they are trying to grow up. The more they have to acknowledge their limitations, the more angry them become at us/themselves. That is why it is best to detach. It makes it easier to learn, because they cannot put it on us. And it saves us some heartache.

    The more I think this through (thank you everybody) the more I realize it has not one bit to do with me. The key here is to either move away or to stay neutral with strong boundaries.

    I do love him with all of my heart, but I do not need him like he needs me. It is because of a sense of love and responsibility that I stay in the game, and because I am seeing some better choices. I also see that we are tightening the rules...and understand that he prefers to see this as about us, rather than see it about himself. For now.

    He is free to understand his life how he chooses, but he is not free to hurt us or to make us responsible for his garbage (emotional or otherwise.) Every. single. thing. he does or says, he will have to clean up, and take responsibility for. Just like the missing keys. Just like the lies. Just like the filth.

    Now he is responsible for his drama queen letter and the way he departed. His meanness. He will have to find a way to clean that up too.

    Meanwhile, I will look up the research on how to teach empathy.

    Thank you, ladies.
    Last edited: May 19, 2016
  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    He's baaaaack.
  9. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    May the force be with you......
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  10. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    I've never asked my son this...because I expect the answer is, "nothing." He doesn't want to work. He doesn't want to study. He doesn't want to do anything. Or at least, he doesn't know.

    I wish I had an answer. I don't know. I don't think so. I think, somewhere inside, he's MORE than this. I think that he will eventually find his way. Or maybe that's just hope, and maybe desperation, talking.

    Mine can't. "Love me for who I am." has been his mantra since about age 16...and he means it literally. If you tell him his breath stinks because he doesn't brush his disgusting teeth, or to bathe, you aren't being accepting. Employers should hire him even if he looks like a homeless person, with ratty clothes and greasy, shaggy hair, because they should be able to look past that.


    Is it stupidity? Is it naivety? Is it narcissism?

    I hope you and M did what he said, just ignore the tantrum like he didn't throw his peas on the floor. My fingers are crossed and you're in my thoughts today.
  11. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    My son did, when I caught him high on marijuana a couple of weeks ago, and asked him why he was looking down and away (hiding red eyes): "because you and M are always too critical of me."
    M did. I forgot and went on and on about the cruelty of the letter until M stopped me.
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
  12. Lil

    Lil Well-Known Member

    Yeah...I end up having Jabber stop me sometimes too. :hugs:
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Well, Lil, I was going to post on your thread because sometimes I get confused which is which.

    How are you guys doing? I looked for a new post from you, did not see a check in.

    Son worked today with M. When I arrived to the other house he was hard at work sanding floors. He asked if he could come back here--I missed not a beat to say "fine."

    I am seeing that this is really not my problem It is his problem. His. That is why it would have made sense to stay cool and ignore his tantrum, and not magnify the power of his note, his mean words. (But at the same time he needs to learn that hurtful things hurt. Nobody hurts him. Why should he hurt me?)
  14. A dad

    A dad Active Member

    I do wonder if your son and many of the difficult children are afraid of working. They might be very anxious and get scared way more then they should about a job. I get it when I was young I was afraid also its just that I did not had a choice its either work or the police will beat the hell out of me now I did find out that I did not had to actually work at my job and nobody cared what I did but working was a monster in my head.
    Its not that by that way and my children understood that from my casual approach to work and both have jobs now.
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    This is interesting to me.

    I think that in my son's case he has not understood autonomous work, work that comes from one's own desire to do well, to accomplish. Not imposed or regulated by demands from somebody else. Or finding a way to do work, even though it is governed in one way or another by others.

    I remember what you wrote about your security guard job and how you came to grips with your fears:
    My son really had a hard time with authority these past number of years, and that is what he seems to be working out. He wanted to be his own boss without taking responsibility to meet his own needs--and could not reconcile not being able to do whatever he wanted in somebody else's place.

    Which is often exactly what the conflict is about working.
    It sounds like you modeled to them the sense that you do not have to give up yourself to go to work, or to any other place.

    On another thread I was writing about how afraid I am to return to work. I have been off work now for 3 and a half years. For 2 and a half years I was mourning the death of my mother. I became largely bed-ridden which is a terrible thing for anybody but because I am in my 60's it is made worse, because one is losing capacities and finding out about health-problems, etc.

    While my identity has been of somebody who is very strong and capable at work, I am also dealing with some fear. I fear returning to work because I am older, weaker, without endurance, fatter, etc

    I am honestly afraid if I can do it, or if I really want to. But at the same time I know that if I do not try now, I may never recover control of myself and my life.

    This conflict in me is played out in my head, not only in terms of authority figures, but fear of imagined co-workers and how they may treat me. It is also played out in terms of how I think about myself.

    Not in a loving and caring way.

    What I think you modeled for your sons is a way to deal gracefully and manfully with responsibilities, a reality that we do not often control without breaking a sweat.

    The person you believe in is you. It sounds like you taught them to not ever abandon themselves, even when everything and anybody, might tell you to. Which to me is a great way to live a life.

    What a great post, A Dad. I always like it when you post. I cannot remember a post of yours that did not make me think.
  16. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Actually, through my work I have known people who admitted faking it to getting SSI. By faking psychosis. It is not that difficult, apparently.

    I do not believe my own son faked it. Yet, I do not believe he will be served by it, on a long term basis. I am grateful that Social Security may agree with me. My son is now under medical review.

    Because of this he is considering psychiatric medications, which he has long refused--to demonstrate that he is treatment compliant.

    I read that young people with psychiatric diagnoses are often reviewed soon after their approval * in my son's case it has been 2 years, because there is the assumption that mental problems can ameliorate and improve with treatment.

    SSI is not indicated if somebody can do some work, whether it is the most humble. There is not one thing standing in the way of my son working. He has proven that he is able to sustain a day's work, if he chooses. While I would do (and can do) nothing to interfere with any benefits he secures, I believe he (and others) benefit from having to engage the reality of day to day necessities, to function to their highest potential. That includes him, and it includes me.

    Of course being amiable, as is my son, has nothing to do with obtaining SSI.

    I met a man yesterday. Actually he was the instructor of a Red Cross CPR class. His service dog was with him. An ex navy man, it was clear he was suffering from some sort of psychiatric issue, probably PTSD, maybe brain damage. I was so admiring of him. There are people who do persevere despite enormous odds. I would be lying if I said that I did not hope my son finds in himself the capacity one day to decide that he can have goals and reach them.

    I understand that some people find this to be a value judgment on my part. It is. I believe functioning to ones highest ability is a good thing. For both the individual and for society. I have lived that way.

    While I do not believe I judge others based upon my own value-system, in my heart of hearts I want my son to function in a way that makes him feel self-respect and productive and useful, in whatever he is able to achieve.
  17. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    I think you are doing a very good job of maintaining boundaries with someone who is almost right there in your face every day and living a real-not-perfect life of a Difficult Child, progress but not perfection, one step forward and then another, and then three back. Real life. Real stuff. Real people.

    My son used to say the very same thing. Couldn't and didn't want to do anything. He would get so many jobs and then get fired from all of them. This was during the hard hard years before it got even worse. I couldn't understand it because he had a great work ethic, always, had and started working when he was 15. I think now, looking back, he didn't show up, or stole from them, or mouthed off...all the while he was using drugs regularly.

    I cannot overestimate how important I believe work is for people. All of us. You. Me. them. We are accountable, have a sense of purpose (even if we are contemptuous of it all, like so many DCS are), we have to show up, stay until they say we can go, be tired, go to bed and get up to do it again. The mere process of work is valuable. Purposeful. Structure. So valuable.

    I had a friend who chose not to work, even though she had a PhD in biochemistry. She was a very unhappy person and an angry person, and in her 50s lived in the home she grew up in, with her parents. She was on the state health insurance plan because she had no job, and she claimed no income. When you were around her, she was always complaining and basically made the time together miserable. One day she asked me flat out: What do you think I need to do with my life? Very quickly, without hesitation (I am not proud of this even though it was 100 percent what I believed and still do) I said: Get a job. You need to go to work, work all day, come home tired, fix dinner, wash a load of clothes, go to bed and get up to do it all over again. It will be the best thing you ever did for yourself.

    Needless to say, she was royally p.o'd at me and that was that. She still doesn't work.

    I would amend to say "figure out what works FOR YOU and what doesn't and state those boundaries". People can do whaever they want to do. God bless them, they are adults. And so are we. We have choices too.

    Love you people here. You people here are great.
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  18. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I agree with you COM. I spent most of my work life hating a lot of it. Authority. Mean, snotty co-workers. Having to conform. Feeling trapped.

    There has only been one job I can remember being sorry ended. OK. Three jobs, if I am telling the truth.

    But something has gotten me to be a much happier person in the near fifty years since I began working. I believe it is working. While I can tell myself it was the travel and the dancing, the truth that was the icing on the cake; the real cake was the work.

    My son seems willing and able to continue working with us every day. I worry because currently he is working alone (scraping floors) and M and the other guys are at another site.

    But what can I do? Part of work, maybe the most important part, is the subordination of those parts of oneself, to meet a goal, to conform. This is the necessary learning. To get this muscle developed.

    Thank you, COM and everybody.