Greetings from Mickeyville!

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by Mikey, Jul 4, 2007.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    Hi everyone from the "Happiest place on earth".

    Well, not really.

    Nothing bad happening. Just that I'm starting to really see just how much of a gulf there is between me and my son. We've been here for several days now, and while we've had moments of fun, overall it's been like two strangers sharing the same room.

    Drove to the beach yesterday because difficult child wanted to "walk in the ocean". Drove over an hour to get there, I dive in and start swimming around only to see him walking away up the beach. WTF?
    I finally caught up with him, and he said he just wanted to walk. I asked if I could walk with him, he shrugged his shoulders and went on. So we walked together for about an hour. Silently, much like two adjacent people in a crowd, not like a father and son enjoying being together at the beach. Left after about an hour and went back to the hotel.

    We did go to Downtown Disney last night. That was fun, but only because of the big Virgin megastore there (spent two hours shopping for CD's).

    Finally got over to the Hard Rock hotel today. It's what I thought would finally break the ice for us. I must have guessed wrong. Was looking forward to a fun afternoon by the pool, hanging out this evening listening to a live rock band while watching the fireworks with difficult child.

    We weren't here more than an hour before he hooked up with another band of roving, unattended teens and disappeared. While he did answer his phone, I got the distinct impression that he'd had as much "Dad Time" as he could handle for a while, and needed a break. So I've spent most of the day by myself here at the hotel, except for the 15 minutes or so before the show and the show itself.

    He's now gone off with his newfound "friends" for a bit. He already asked if he could go to Citiwalk with them, and thought I was crazy when I said "NO!". After hours, that's an adult-oriented area, and there's no reason for a gang of underage teens to be hanging out over there. And I was also flabbergasted that he'd ask to spend the rest of the evening with kids he'd just met, when I'd done everything possible to set up some time for the two of us.
    I guess I know now just how far the chasm is between us. While we still have another day here at the park, and the concert tomorrow night, all I want to do is go home. He doesn't want to be here with me, my wife and daughter are on the other side of the country in the backwoods where I can't even call them, and my other son is stuck by himself at home - and not much of a conversationalist. For the first time in a long time, I truly do feel totally alone.

    I don't really know now what I hoped to gain from this trip. If nothing else, I'd hoped to keep him out of the situations that caused me so much stress while at home without wife around. But when he gets here, it takes almost no time for him to assemble a new posse to hang out with.

    I'm just tired, depressed, and ready to give up. It really does suck to do everything you can to plan a trip that caters a person's every whim, and then find that it doesn't matter. What I know now is that the essential relationship isn't there. If it was, it wouldn't matter if we were in Orlando or Toledo (no offense to anyone living in that fine city).

    But that connection isn't there, so even going to the "Happiest place on Earth" can't make something grow that just doesn't exist. My gut feeling is that we're done, and nothing else will happen between us until he's out of the house, on his own and has his own life (in whatever fashion that turns out to be).

    I can see it more clearly now. Only after he's settled on his own path will I be able to figure out what kind of relationship we can have. Until then, I guess it will be more of the same of what I've had so far: fleeting periods of fun and happiness overshadowed by mostly grey, stressful days while he figures out his own life.

    Well, one more day and I go home. Four days after that, wife finally comes home. After that? Who knows. Right now, I'm just trying to digest the reality that I've only now come to realize.

    I'll post more when I can, or when I get back home.

  2. NOLA

    NOLA New Member

    Hi Mikey

    Sorry for your pain - I really relate. It's a hard pill to swallow (no pun intended) when our sons just don't get it. We cling to every glimpse of what once was and should still be and fall over and over again (like teenagers ourselves) for their displays of short-lived personable charm towards us.

    I still think it was a good thing for you to have done for 2 reasons, the first being it puts things in perspective for you to really see where he is and secondly, one day your son will think back to this time and appreciate you and your efforts.

    Hang in there.
  3. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    I think most outings with teens and parents are minutes of shared, good times and somewhere on this side of torture the rest. I understand your pain and frustration but I really wouldn't take it personally. It really is normal to rather hang out with some strangers who are their age than their family. It is part of the growing up process. Sucks to be the parents and feeling rejected, but that's the way it is.

    You have the added factor that he's a troubled teen with a drug history. He is now on an outing with his father with no drugs to take the edge off. Sucks to be him.

    So, take the good moments as they come. Hopefully, Blue Man Group will give you a glimpse of the son you wanted for this trip.
  4. KFld

    KFld New Member

    Sorry to hear it's not going well. I have to tell you though, he probably won't really appreciate time with you until he matures a little more. At that age my difficult child wouldn't have wanted to spend anytime with my husband or I like that, but now that he's 20 and clean he is just starting to appreciate it. My difficult child went to VT with us this past weekend with just my husband, myself and my mother and father inlaw and he actually had a great time. A few years back it would have been like pulling teeth to get him to do something like that with us, never mind enjoy it.

    Don't beat yourself up over it. More has to do with the age and wanting to be around kids his own age then him not wanting to be with you.

    I know you thought and planned long and hard for this trip.Sorry it wasn't what you thought it was going to be.
  5. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi Mikey,
    I too am sorry things didn't go better but I think this could have happened with a easy child kid as well. Most teens don't really want to spend a lot of time with their parents. I remember going with my parents to the West coast of Florida when I was 17 and they basically were just a ride to me to get me to the beach. I wasn't really interested in spending time with them, just was happy to be in Florida and having guys notice me. As someone else said, please don't take it too personally.

    You are right though about having to wait til he is older to get some appreciation. My difficult child 1 who is 19 now and I have a good relationship because she is no longer dependent on me at all. She has a job, her own apt. with boyfriend, her own life. We had quite the blow up a few months ago and I told her that I would no longer help her financially. Since then she has figured out how to take care of herself and now we get along fine. She is very nice to me and appreciative of any little thing I do but I don't do much. For some kids the more you do the more helpless and resentful they become.

    I'm glad your wife and dtr will be home soon. I think you need to take your focus off your son and put it on the rest of your family, mostly on you and your wife. You guys need to be able to have a life separate from the kids. They should not have to be responsible for your happiness. I'm not sure why we baby boomer parents put so much emphasis on our kids and invest so much of ourselves in them. After all, they will grow up and go away and have their own lives and we will be left behind if we have invested all our hopes and dreams in them instead of finding our own lives. I don't write very well, hope this makes some sense.

    Thinking of you,
  6. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry, Mickey. I know you had hoped it would be different.
    difficult children have a radar network and locate fellow difficult children quickly. It's
    a sad fact. Meanwhile, have you heard from your brother yet??

    PS: Our psychiatrist's receptionist is the Mom of one of the Blues
    Brothers. I've never seen them but hear they are great!
  7. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry things aren't going as well as you'd hoped. You tried. Maybe he'll cherish this time when he's older. Hopefully, he'll realize someday how you were trying to bring the two of you closer and he'll realize what a great dad he has. For now, he's a teen and he wants to be with other teens.

    As I read your story, I couldn't help but remember the show Two and a Half Men that was on the other night. The dad of the boy was realizing that his son was growing up and he wanted to spend time doing the things he hadn't gotten a chance to do yet, so he took him camping and the son was bored out of his mind. Of course it was comical on tv, but painful in a way, too. I'm sure it's more painful in real life.
  8. judi

    judi Active Member

    Aw Mikey - I'm sorry that you ended up disappointed! I think it sounded like a wonderful trip. YOu hit the nail on the head when you said that it will be on his terms that he shares a life with you again.

    Our relationship with our son (difficult child) is like that. He never ever initiates a phone call or visit or any contact with us at all. When we are together, it is like a family of strangers. It is very sad.

    I'm sorry again Mikey.
  9. CAmom

    CAmom Member

    Mikey, I understand how you feel--we went through the same thing with our son.

    The last trip we "forced" on him, when he was about 14, was a 4th of July. We tried our darndest to get him involved to the point of surprising him, midway through the road trip, with an electric scooter--something he had always wanted. We made sure we booked a site at an RV resort that was "family oriented" so that there would be lots of teens about, and there were. Despite all our efforts, he spent most of his time in our motor home, playing video games and watching movies. The real clincher was when the very impressive fireworks display began, and he refused (quite politely) to come out and watch. That was a low moment for us, having to accept that the little boy we used to know who wouldn't have missed those fireworks for ANYTHING was gone.

    On a brighter note, a woman I know who's in her 70's and has a great relationship with her son NOW told me a story that's stuck with me. After several years of a very stormy relationship with her son, she and her husband planned a special good-bye outing right before he left home for college. This was a horse-ride culminating in a picnic. The son was TOTALLY underwhelmed by the plan but very reluctantly went along with it. She said that he was glum and uncommunicative during the entire half-day outing, never expressed any interest or pleasure, and didn't even bother to say thanks after they returned home. Yet recently, twenty years after the fact, during a conversation, her son reminded her of that day and told her that it was one of the MOST enjoyable memories he had of his teen years. Go figure...
  10. Ephchap

    Ephchap Active Member

    Mikey, since you've joined the board, I've been a bit MIA, so I do apologize for not following along with your posts as much as I normally do. I've been dealing with a lot of family stuff, so just wanted to mention that first off.

    I do want to say that I commend you for trying so hard to connect with your son. Speaking from a mom whose difficult child is now 23, I can give you hope that he might someday change, and that he'll tell you it wasn't you or about you; it was him and all about him.

    Right now, I'm on vacation with my husband, and my easy child daughter and her boyfriend, and my difficult child and his girlfriend. We just spent the day in the ocean swimming and hanging out on the beach together, then difficult child and easy child's boyfriend made dinner, and all 6 of us just returned from miniature golf.

    Is it always "The Waltons"? No. Definitely not. But my difficult child now opens up and talks with my husband and I, and has told us repeatedly that it was never anything we did or didn't do. It was all on him, and he owns up to it now.

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I remember all too well doing everything in my power to find a way to connect with my son, and nothing seemed to be working. Yet, here we are years later, and we have had some heart to heart talks.

    You might not think so, but you're really come a long way since your first posts here. It won't change what your son is doing, but it does help you to deal with it better internally, if that makes sense. It still hurts like heck, I know. Hang in there, dad. Hopefully he'll come around.

  11. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    Hi Mikey,
    First of all I'd like to thank you for visiting our state and somewhat enjoying yourself. Afternoon showers are kinda cool :smile:

    2nd I'd like to say sorry for YOUR bruised ego. are learning detachment whether you like it or not. difficult child is teaching you. Just as you learned parenting from your also learn detachment.

    3rd, Deb, Kfld, and the others are right. It's not YOU, it's not your planning, it's not the place. It's a difficult child teen. difficult child is being basically developmentally appropriate whether he's difficult child or easy child. Now that's not to say that there aren't those on either side of the spectrum, but basically he's non communicative, finding other's his age, able to distance hisself from the parental unit, and probably will ALWAYS remember the trip.

    My biggest suggestion to you is DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY and to continue to be a DAD and do not crossover to be the FRIEND. It's easy to want to cajole difficult child into "aren't you having a good time, if I do this will you do this, comeon buddy let's....."

    This is the most important time of your life and difficult child needs a dad who sets high standards and is consistent and immovable. Negotiations are a possibility, but it has to be difficult child initiated.

    My difficult child 2 was stubborn to the core. We moved him out at 16. He had very little contact with dad unit for about 2yrs. Now...he calls husband (not through me) he arranges things. They are having a relationship on their own terms.

    We as parental units want the happy go lucky good times of our kids youth. The ones where they enjoyed everything we planned. Our difficult child's are hardheaded, manipulative, self absorbed, sometimes troubled teens who hopefully will all be productive citizens. It is our job to light the way but not be the rug underneath.

    So while I share your pain....I give you hope, hope that this time will pass quickly and the future will be brighter.
  12. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    This reminded me of a congratulations-on-your-new-baby card I saw a while back.

    It read: "Aren't babies great? If they started out as teenagers, we'd never bring them home from the hospital."

    'nuff said.
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    Okay, so I get the whole "teen angst" thing now, and understand that he's acting like any other teen would act. But it still hurts. Also, yesterday evening before the Blue Man Group show we finally had a "heart to heart".

    It was four hours before the show, and he wanted to go to Citiwalk with his new "friends". When I told him I wanted him to come to the room to talk with him, a 30 minute phone argument ensued where I nearly had to threaten to cancel the show and have hotel security hunt him down before he finally showed up.

    He came in, plopped on the bed, and stared at me like I was something that had just crawled out of the swamp. No matter, i pressed on...

    I asked him why he came on the trip. Shrugging shoulders and the unspoken "I don't know" blank stare was the only answer I received. I told him that I didn't want to have this conversation, but it was important for him to understand since he thought I was acting "psycho" again. He said "Haven't I spent the last three days with you?"

    "Exactly my point" I replied. "You've been here with me in Orlando, but you haven't spent hardly any time with me. You've spent more time on your own or with a bunch of drunk gang-banging teens that you just met than you have with me."

    I repeated "why did you come?" He didn't answer, so I said "Okay, I'll tell you why I came. Because you'll be 18 in two months, and at that point your life will change forever. And over the last year, I've realized that I don't know you, and I've tried everything I could to reconnect with you so that when you turned 18 there's still be some connection".

    "I tried being your 'buddy', looking the other way when you toked and yukking it up at your druggie jokes. I tied being the gorilla nazi dad, and that didn't work either. I tried being the dispationate adult, dealing with issues instead of emotions. No luck. I tried therapy, threats, bribes, and just about everything else I could think of to find some way to get though to you. Nothing worked".

    "So, as a last resort, I thought I'd try just being a dad. Nothing major, nothing "deep", just a Dad and his son going on a vacation together to do something that they've both wanted to do for a long time. I thought that surely, we could find some way to bridge the gap. But that didn't happen, and it can't happen if you're not here!".

    Vacant stare, tapping feet, silent mouth, so I continue....

    "You can't even begin to believe what I've gone through to try and find some way to connect with you. And this was my last chance, and it failed".

    That finally got a response from him. "It failed? How do you figure that?" sez himself...

    "It failed because I see your legal maturity coming in two months. I see a person who is obviously <u>not ready</u> for the legal status of reaching majority. I see a relationship between us that's obviously damaged. And I saw one last chance to reach out to you and try to forge some link that will endure once you turn 18. And you rejected it."

    "In short, I'd hoped that our relationship would be in better shape after the trip than before we left. I can see now that that was a mistake, because that's obviously not a committment you're willing to make".

    Another response: "what do you mean? Haven't we spent time together? Haven't we done things together?"

    Okay, at least he's talking now.

    I reply "yes, we've done things. We've gone to eat. We've gone shopping for CD's. We've wandered around doing the things you wanted to do, yet you treat me like some tag-a-long in the crowd until you want me to pay for something. That's not a relationship."

    Rolling eyes, tapping feet, "you're overreacting". "The only time you're happy is when you have me locked in the house, doing nothing. When I'm sick, when I'm grounded, whatever. If I'm locked in the house, then you're happy. You're just psycho"....

    "No I'm not! This has been building for over a year. And now you're close to being old enough to be 'on your own', and you're no better off than a year ago. And actually, it's the other way around. For over a year, the only time YOU are happy is when you get exactly what you want, without any oversight, questions, or poking around into your private life. That's not a relationship. That's a dictatorship, with you being the dictator. And finally, I'm standing up and telling you that that's wrong, and I want more from our relationship than a drug-addled rebellious teen dictating how, when, and to what degree I can interact with him - when I'm still providing everything he needs to lead his so-called life."

    "Do you even realize how close that is to changing? You've been acting for over a year like nothing will ever change. That you'll always have a room to sleep in, that there will always be food on the table, medical insurance for when you get sick, clothes to wear, and parents to have your back when you get in a jam. You act like that will never change, and that you can continue to treat us like a burden and like we're the Gestapo and still get what you want. Two months from now, that will change, and you don't even see it coming....."

    Finally, silence, and a glint of comprehension starts to flit through his eyes....

    "Do you understand now? Your life situation is about to change permanently. I've been trying to find some middle ground with you for over a year before that happens, and this was my last chance. And it failed, because now you know the REAL reason I planned this trip, and you still don't care".

    "Uh, what do you want to do now, Dad"?

    "It's a little late to ask now. The fact that I had to explain what's really going on only serves to ensure that you will never go along with it. You couldn't just take the chance to have a once-in-a-lifetime trip with your Dad and enjoy it. You could have had something that, twenty years from now, you could look back and say "that was a good time with my Dad, and I'll remember it forever". You could have had that, but instead you took it as a 'dad ferrying me to Orlando, now I'm going to go out and have some fun'. Now that I've had to tell you what I wanted, it's too late."

    "So go out with your friends. Be back in time for the show - at least that will be one good memory you can take from the trip. But if you don't want to be around me, then go be where you want. I don't want your pity, and I don't want your charity. What I DO want, however, is for you to think about whether or not you want a relationship with me and your Mom. And whether or not you're willing to finally start giving something back to keep a relationship you value alive."

    "If you don't value our love, if it's just a burden to you, then have the guts to tell me that to my face and then go on about your business when you're 18. Because I can tell you that when you reach that golden age, the days of you taking what you want, ignoring what you choose, and shunning the needs of those around you who love you are over. Relationships run two ways, and it's about time you learned that. I'd hoped to find a gentle, acceptable way to help you see that here, but as usual you take what you want and throw the rest away. So go ahead, do what you want right now, but understand that the clock is ticking for you. Two months isn't that long, and choosing not to make a decision is the same as choosing to reject an actual relationship with your family".

    I then left for dinner, and came back to an empty room. He showed up later, just in time to take a nap before the show.

    And for the record, it was a GREAT show! I even got to buy the artwork made by the group during the show which McWeedy thought was cool. For that two hours, I finally found the connection I'd been looking for. We had a great time. But I was't deluded, and knew it wouldn't last. And it didn't. But at least I have that one good memory to take with me from the trip. It'll have to suffice.

    Lessons learned? (1) No matter how hard you try, you can only have the relationship with your child that they're willing to let you have. (2) I realize now how important my relationship with wife is; kids will come, and then go, but my wife is my love and my life, and when she gets back I will do everything in my power to make sure she knows that; (3) No matter how bad things get, you can still find moments of happiness in the worst situations. (4) No matter how hard you try, you can't make a one-sided relationship work.

    Layover wisdom from the Memphis airport....

  14. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    You know what, Mickey? I think you may have a valid analogy going. It's a bit like dating someone who uses you for a free
    good meal, or a ticket to the moviesIf they don't want a real
    relationship then you have to accept you're being used. Back in
    the day (I'm ashamed to admit) I was a very desirable young thing
    who dated "some" guys who dreamed of "more" than a lovely medium
    rare filet and Cherries Jubilee. I knew that they were dreaming
    of "bases earned" but I had no intention of playing ball. Yep.
    I think you hit on something. DDD
  15. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    <div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Mikey</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> (4) No matter how hard you try, you can't make a one-sided relationship work. </div></div>

    So true and so sad that you had to come to this realization in such a painful way.

    If it is any consolation My difficult child#1 and I have actually begun building a friendship over the last year or so. she is now 32. She put us through the wringer as parents and we ended up having to put her out of the house with some support from us. (She still has a totally different version of that LOL)

    She never appreciated anything we did for her. probably still doesn't, but she thinks of me sometimes and will call me just to see how I am doing. I know she will never say she is sorry for all the past pain she cause the family. I know she will never be able to get totally out of herself. I also know I will probably never trully trust her but we now can connect and we now can have our special days and truly enjoy each other's company.
  16. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Do NOT be surprised if one day this boy describes this trip as something wonderful and he got to do it with his DAD. Someday he will show appreciation for this trip - maybe not to you, but I am guessing you will at least get to overhear it.

    I do think you should stop trying. I am glad you learned that from this trip. It was valuable for that realization, in my humble opinion.

    Just go about making your own life happy. His will come in time. Continue to try to teach the basics of adulthood - banking, car maintenance, keeping a job, etc. How life works. He may not get it now - but you bet your butt your words will be the ones echoing in his brain later in life.

    You are a good dad - you have just entered a different phase of parenting this child. Perhaps with less emotion - which I gather is not your comfort level. Sometimes we have to step out of what we know to be the best parents we can be. Kids sometimes determine how we should parent them. I am sure each of your children is different and requires different ways of parenting. This is another example of that.