Another update on M, & thoughts on Desmond Tutu

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by witzend, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    I was going to just update my other post about husband's seeing M again, but I can't figure out how to edit the title line, so I'm starting a new thread.

    husband delivered M's new clothes for the job interview that's set tomorrow. I told husband that if he is going to commit to this, he needs to take responsibility for follow through. "Yeah, but he didn't know that he had the job interview until today!" I reminded him that we all knew that M needed a job, and that he knew that M needed clothes for an interview several weeks ago and he should have followed up with it instead of leaving the inevitable to the last moment for me to deal with. He agreed, and told me that he would contact M every week or two to keep on top of it, and act (or not if it's not reasonable to do so) on what's needed in a timely manner.

    M did hear from husband's work that his application for the job was in the second part of the process and he will be hearing from them. That's encouraging, because they weed out the "no go's" pretty vigorously. He may well get an interview.

    I did talk to M on the phone a couple of weeks ago. He was going on about how he was going to figure out how to get on disability. I wasn't impressed. He's capable of working, but it's hard to find a job when you've been playing video games and smoking dope for the past three years, I guess. He also, I'm sure, figured out that it takes 6 months after approval to get your first check.

    M told husband yesterday that he missed having a family, (he also is sleeping on someone's couch and doesn't know where he'll live next week) and realizes that he behaved like a stupid teenager to us. Actually, it was quite a bit more than that. M was thankful and grateful for the clothes and cash. husband said that he thought that M sounded more mature, but agreed that he might be better at BS than he was before. My thought is that I need to see something more than a kid who is hungry and poor and regrets where his choices have brought him. I need to see a person who actually wants to change and is taking action on that. I know he's not going to be the man I want him to be any time soon, but I need more than what I have seen and heard so far.

    I think that like many of us here, I have an incredible sense of guilt for not knowing how to make him happy. Yes, I know that I did the best I could, and that there was a point in time (very early in his development, actually) where he became more autonomous and despite the therapy and treatment and chances he chose not to be happy. But we're moms and we want to know how to fix it. In all honesty, not being around him for this long period of time has made our lives easier. Too easy, probably. But I'm still not jumping in.

    I have to preface what I am going to say by explaining that when M was in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) when he was 16, I wrote him a long letter explaining what I remember about his life, my shortcomings as a mother, and apologized for specific and general mistakes that I had made. I told him that I wanted him to be happy and would do anything possible to help him find happiness. Anything except say I had abused him, which I had not, and which he was accusing me of. He knew it was a hot button issue for me, and it was unusually cruel to do that to me. Instead, he just kept it up. husband was to have dealt with M from then on, but instead, he buried his head in the sand, as per usual.

    About Bishop Tutu. I don't have a problem admitting mistakes or asking for forgiveness. I've had a hard time deciding why it is that I have a hard time forgiving, though. I saw Bishop Tutu being interviewed by Bill Moyers the other night about a book he had written about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He talked about the horrible things that people had suffered, and how much admiration he had for the people that forgave their tormentors. Bill Moyers asked him "How do you forgive someone who has tortured you and your family? How do you move on?"

    Bishop Tutu told him that forgiving is one party's part of the process, and that when you forgive, you can either move on with or without the other party. He likened the harmed as being inside a house with the windows and doors shuttered and locked, and the perpetrator as being outside not even looking in. When you forgive that person, you open the doors and windows to that person. If the person you are forgiving says "Well, thanks", or nothing at all, they are walking away from the building and you have nothing to regret or worry about and you get to move on without them. Or the other person says "I'm sorry that I did (x), and that it hurt you. I won't do it again." Then that person is forgiven, and you are healed, and you can both move on. They have gone into the house of forgiveness and you have welcomed them. You don't have to be their friend. But it's the "forget" part of "forgive and forget" that I could never figure out.

    Throughout my adult life I have really invested myself when I forgive the people who were the most unforgivable. Those are the things I don't want to live with every day. And without fail (until very recently and that's another story) they have said "I'm not sorry for what I did because I got what I wanted and the ends justified the means." M's response has always been "You know I never say I'm sorry for anything I have ever done because I never regret anything."

    The way I look at it, whatever it is that M is feeling or wanting or doing, my doors and windows have been open for years. As of yet, he's just walked back into the neighborhood and is watching the house from afar. He hasn't looked in the windows or tried to walk in by offering an apology. And I am still moving on. He can choose to join the journey if he wants, but I don't see that yet. The ball is in his court, and for once I understand that and feel comfortable with letting him do with it what he will. He turned in his "free family pass" a long time ago. If he wants a family pass, he has to earn it, this time.
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    I have a couple of thoughts as well.

    re: "Forgiveness". A good friend finally convinced me that forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for the person who harmed you. In a Christian sense, you forgo the desire for retribution, and give over that desire to God (or your own higher power) to judge and deal with that person. You should, then be released from the anger, bile, and other nasty feelings that go along with anger and the need for retribution. So, it's something you do for yourself, to clear your spirit of those things that keep you from a happier, more productive life and relationship with your higher power.

    On a side note, my friend is also somewhat liberal, and used this idea frequently in conversations with his more conservative friends. When they all nodded and agreed how wise he was to understand that, he would follow it up with "well then, that should take care of the conservative eye-for-an-eye thirst for vengeance, right?" He'd let them get puffed up and angry, then deflate them by saying "yes, the Bible does say an eye-for-an-eye. But did it say you had the right to pluck out the eye, or simply trust that God would judge that person's transgressions against you fairly, and deal with that person in a just manner? Or, do you not trust God enough to do as he says he will do, and feel the need to do what God should - but won't - do, and take retribution yourself?"

    Wowee, the arguments that kid started, but he makes a good point. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, and I think he's right that God (or your own higher power) meant it that way.

    Another good friend also taught me later that American Christians seem to have confused the meaning of the word "forgive", and somehow equated it with "reconcile". In the Bible and many other holy texts, we are encouraged to forgive those who harm us. To him (as with my other friend), that means you put dealing with that person's harmful behavior in God's hands. That's different from reconciling. Forgiving is something you do for yourself, so you don't give that other person free rent in your head. But that doesn't mean you have to become best friends, invite them over for dinner, join a bowling league with them, or even smile at them afterwards.

    But so many people say "I could never forgive that person for doing {...insert favorite harmful behavior here...}. Why not? Unless you think that forgiving them means more than it does. That was a very liberating epiphany for me, and one I have to continually remind myself of in the ongoing tribulation that is my son, McWeedy.

    If I've offended anyone here, I apologize in advance. I don't mean to proselytize, but I with all the difficult child's, FEX's, and other difficult people in the lives of our CD board members, I humbly hope that the version of forgiveness I've come to understand can help someone else.

    Or maybe not, in which case you're welcome to throw rotten tomatoes, cabbage, and other produce at me as you see fit.

    :soapbox: :bigsmile: :bigsmile: :bigsmile:

  3. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member

    Mikey...that was profound.

    I have been working very hard in therapy to come to the place that I can forgive my mother for what she did to me in my life. I can never reconcile with her because she is no longer alive and I dont have to say that what she did was right or ok...but I have come to a place where I have forgiven her for what she did.
  4. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    As a child of parents who just weren't there for me, I learned the art of forgiveness early. It didn't mean that I was okaying their choices---just that I was letting go of the resentment and anger that eats one up in side when they don't forgive.

    To me it's not about any certain religious belief---although I do believe in Biblical principals---It is about self preservation. When you hang on to resentment, when you repeatedly relive the wrongs done to you, you live in a place of powerlessness. You rehash the moment over and over again. You live in the "what if's" and "should've" place of regret. When you forgive, you are releasing that person from having power over your life. You realize that the issues they are dealing with, the one's that caused them to "do you wrong" have little to nothing to do with you and that releases you from the guilt of wondering if you really did something to deserve the pain they put upon you.

    Steven Covey said there are two kinds of people in the world---those who make things happen and those who are happened to. I don't want to be happened to in my life. I want to make things happen. That can only occur when you are strong enough in your "self" to let go of people who hurt you, intentionally and unintentionally. As long as you hold on to the hurt---you are being happened to again and again.

    We have little control over what happens, only how we choose to respond to it.
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911


    I think part of growing older at any age is the realizations that while we know we did what we could do for our loved ones was the best we could do - it somehow wasn't enough.

    The part that torments me on occasion is the best/not enough. It leaves me empty and wondering and I HATE that.

    Sometimes I feel like having kids like ours is like watching a child who suddenly went blind. The parent of a child who is sight impaired has to stand back and watch as their child crashes into this, and falls, hits himself into objects - and they can't help because the child HAS TO LEARN through tough lessons where things are - because some day he's going to be on his own and there won't be a loving voice to say "to your left - table" to keep him from getting hurt.

    I will probably always to some degree be my sons buttinski Mom - in the way that I offer up advice that isn't asked for, voice my thoughts - try to invisibly guide my child to a better choice and warn against the real world.

    I think too it's a very fine line that you can draw with grown children in as much as you know if you don't detach their actions are going to ruin you. And if you Do detach - you feel like you aren't too much of a Mom because we love, we nurture, we fix, we heal. And I'm not talking coddling - I'm talking about our kids - sleeping on couches in strange places, and seeing how other kids maybe a bit more mature who are struggling to pay bills and keep their heads above water are living - and our kids seem clueless despite the life lessons that stare them down.

    Dude made a few acquaintances while at the group home outside of the facility. They are kids not much older than him - and due to poor parenting or lack of parenting - are out on their own living in hovels, dirty conditions, trying to raise babies - having hit and miss jobs - and they create their own families out of tragic similarities. I figured my son would be drawn to this freedom like a moth to a flame. I thinking - the comforts of home must be strangling you. - Well not so. That for me is like your son looking at the house from across the street. It's almost like - as long as I can see him sometimes - I can breathe - make sense?

    I guess as difficult child parents we are forced to give up SO MUCH - that when we get little windows like this - we appreciate them in full force.

    Many hugs Witz - you're an amazing person, a phenominal Mom - and I'm glad you're my friend. Even if I do picture you looking JUST like your avatar - lol.

  6. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Well, in this post you pretty much answered the question I asked in your last post. Guess I should have looked before I asked the question. :rofl:

    I know for me, the most liberating thing I've done for myself is "accept". Maybe that's my version of "forgive." It's a long haul and I still slide, but for the most part I do accept Rob for what he is and the limitations he has and has dealt with; accept the past for what it was, and to stop beating myself up for things I might have done better. And I've really worked hard to let it go and not obsess over memories and events too much and for too long either.

    It has helped to keep our conversations and visits short and relatively superficial. I expect little or nothing so if it's good I'm genuinely thrilled.

    I had to let go of the resentment I felt. I was so bitter and so obsessed with wanting an apology from him it was killing me and it was killing the possibility of having any kind of relationship in the future with Rob. I finally decided that having a future with him was more important than my devastated feelings about the past.

    Witz, M might never apologize. Rob never has. It's the conceit of youth. Can you forgive/accept that about him and move past it to forge a new relationship with him?

  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm also one who can learn to "accept" a person for who and what they are. I think that's about as close as I can get to forgiving certain people in my life. But by accepting I find that it's easy to let go of the anger, hurt, and resentment.

    So maybe it is something akin to forgivness, although not quite the same level.

    But I'm not angry, nor bitter, no pining away for answers to Why? So I guess it works for me. lol
  8. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    Hi Everywoman,
    I would like to print out your response and show it to my difficult child 2 if you don't mind. This is something we were talking about in therapy yesterday and I think it might be helpful to her in her process of healing from abuse she suffered from difficult child 1 and also an ex-boyfriend. You have a great way with words!
  9. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Jane---that's fine. Thanks for the compliment. I should be, it's what I do for a living---teach teenagers and young adults.
  10. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Forgive? Yes. Accept? I'm fuzzy on what that means. I think I am much less obsessed with "What if he doesn't apologize?" I feel I'm ready to be comfortable with forgiving him, but not to be stupid about it. At least, I'd like to think so. To quote another great philosopher ( ;) ), Gomer Pyle, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." So I guess the answer is yes, I forgive him without an apology. And honestly, I have moved on. But he doesn't enjoy the carte blanche trust he would get with a sincere apology. So, I agree with Mikey. It's a matter of verbiage. I forgive him, and I can move on with or without him. Whatever M does, it will be a different relationship, but the ball is in his court. Maybe one day we will be close. But not today, and I don't have to feel badly about it if we don't become close again. As his mom, all I have is hope that he will be strong and happy.

    by the way, no offense taken Mikey. I'm fine if people feel that God gets retribution. My belief is more in that there is Karma, (maybe God is Karma) and if I waste my time trying to make something bad happen to someone else - or "an eye for an eye", I deserve some bad Karma and it will happen.
  11. Mikey

    Mikey Psycho Gorilla Dad

    EW, re:
    My psychiatric friend called this "giving them free rent in your head". When you should be enjoying your son's game, you're thinking about this issue; when you should be enjoying dinner with your wife/hubby/SO, you're dwelling on your anger; when you should be getting a good night's sleep or enjoying the closed-door company of your partner, you're rehashing how you were wronged. That person has free rent in your head, and is taking up valuable space that belongs to other things and people that are more worthy.

    His definition of forgiveness "evicts" them from your head, but doesn't commit you to anything beyond that. It's something you do for yourself, and you put the fate of that other person in the hands of karma, or whatever higher power you choose to recognize.

    I haven't seen that guy in a long, long time. I need to call him and say "Hi".