difficult child's narrative to his life -how very, very sad

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by SuZir, Oct 24, 2014.

  1. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Now that difficult child have been home a week, amongst him being as obnoxious as he possibly can, we have had few good conversations. And he has had few very telling and vocal meltdowns. He is still really at loss with himself but I'm even more worried about how he sees his life, how he sees his own story.

    If I were to write his story from last five years, it would be a story about tough times, devastating blows, bad choices and struggle. But it would also be a story about survival, backbone made of steel, ability to get back to your feet again and again, bravery in the face of desperation, guts, apparently endless stock of that one, and immense courage.

    difficult child's own narrative to these five years seems to be completely different. For him it is a story of endless failures, screw ups, lost chances and rejections. Especially rejections. In his mind every parting of the ways, every end of something or change has turned to be a rejection. And not a rejection as an employee or workmate but as a human being. difficult child feels he is living in the world where the whole world seems to reject the essence of him as worthless.

    There is still fight in him left, but it seems to come from the place of anger, of 'showing them' rather than the place of hope or faith to himself or the world or the life.

    It is just so deeply and excruciatingly sad.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    My difficult child feels exactly the same way. He is a victim, and his fight to go on is more about revenge then about building a life. Very sad indeed.
  3. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    That's really interesting Suzir. A documentary film-maker has been following the squatting community where my son lives and has been interviewing the members of the group about their lives and experiences and philosophy. My son sent me a recording of a 60 min interview with him (I rec'd it this morning in fact), in which he talks about his childhood, experiences since he left home and his view of his current life and why he has ended up in this place. I'm not sure how honest he is being in the interview, but it is strange to hear his own perspective on things and how, in some respects, this differs greatly from the perspective of his family. He 'opens up' in this recording far more than he has ever done to me, and discusses things that I have a completely different memory of and interpretation of. Sending me this recording is obviously his way of telling me things that he doesn't feel he can say in person.

    It is deeply and excruciatingly sad as you say, but at least they are communicating with us and trying to explain things to us, trying to share their own "narrative".
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I think mine doesn't consider himself so much of the victim, at least not an innocent victim, but more that he has some inbred, incorrigible flaw or he is a culpable party that causes that rejection. But he is indeed angry. Maybe not so much to those people he perceives has rejected him, not in the long term at least, but to the world, to the fate (he is an atheist so he can't blame higher beings, if he weren't I guess he would be angry to G/god(/s).)
  5. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    That is interesting. I have done some reading about memory and it is fascinating how differently it actually works from what we assume it works. When one inspects their own memories, it seems so clear that they are actual recollections of events as they happened or at the most slightly biased. And that they do make a linear story of our life. In reality they are anything but.

    Every time we remember something, the memory changes slightly, it can easily change to something totally different than our first memory of the event was. And that first memory was likely already far from objective truth. Our memories are glimpses of what actually happened and bunch of assumptions and interpretations. We make them from few facts (and some of them are often already wrong) and make up the rest to make it the whole story. That is why there is nothing less reliable than eye-witness. And we don't know that. For us our memories seem whole, making sense, and good representation of the facts.

    So even with things that have low emotional content memories of the family members differ a lot. And I'm sure that when there is high emotional content, or one of the family members has more skewed perspective to begin with, the memories are already totally different.

    And I'm sure your son, like mine, has rather skewed perspective. It can be hard to remember, that for them their memories are just as real representation of events than our memories are to us. And that our memories are not actual recollections either.
  6. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time

    Suzir, I would take everything he says with a grain of salt, even if he appears to be telling the absolute truth.

    I have observed that our difficult child kids will "awfulize" to their parents more than to anybody else, ever. Instead of saying one bad/hard thing and then acknowledging a good/easier thing, they will solely focus on the bad/hard things in order to gain our sympathy, our money, our attention, our whatever.

    I honestly do not think the script they use with us is the complete script they use with themselves and with other people.

    Most of our difficult children are master manipulators on a scale we have no awareness of. I know my son, even though he is doing a lot better right now than in years, continues to manipulate. I can accept that, and see it clearly, and still have an interaction with him, by setting my own boundaries and limiting my physical involvement with him.

    It is what it is. He is who he is. None of us changes easily. All I can do is decide what I will do and not do.

    I hope your son will be okay, and I know both you and he have been through a horrific time this time. It is nearly impossible to truly understand and know another person, even our own precious adult children.

    I wish you both the very best.
  7. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Good point and a reminder, though till now that has not been my difficult child's MO. It has been other way around mostly. False bravado, not telling us about bad things, lying he is doing better than he is (in emotional sense, not so much with actual measurable things we could check the truth about) and while awful drama queen, internalising his drama. In that past it has been time to start worry, when difficult child starts to behave cranky and obnoxious way and on the other hand posting positive thinking messages to social media (you know the kind; how winners never quit, when one door closes another one opens and blah, blah, blah.)

    But this latest crisis may have changed things. If he is not sure about his goals any more, he could be doing this to buy time or something.

    On the other hand he may actually be genuinely depressed like he was diagnosed. That changes one's self narrative to darker, so even if he has not always thought like that, it may be true now.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  8. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    I think this is probably pretty normal considering his past. When I think about my life when I am down or in a bad place I tend to go there. I know we don't know the whole story with difficult child and thats fine but from what I can gather from your posts I get the gist.

    1. When you are a victim you dont just feel angry at the person who victimized you. You are angry at yourself and anyone else you think might have been able to stop it. The most twisted thing I found though is that I truly felt there was something in me that made this happen. That my own flaws made me a target. Essentially i thought something about me had been broken even before I was victimized. I was not a whole person and I felt pretty worthless.

    2. Once you are a victim you start looking at things differently. Everything is against you. It is always personal. You self sabotage when things are starting to go bad. You try so hard to be perfect and excel that when you make a small mistake you feel like everyone is focused on it and like you are under a microscope. A boss giving you a verbal warning to not be late means he hates you and you are a failure that will make you a target. All your coworkers are now watching for your mistakes. The next thing you know you are missing work and or not doing as well at work and then you quit before they can fire you. Why because you are worthless.

    Normal situations easily become all about the victim and their worthlessness. I'll give a few scenarios so you can feel how twisted the thinking is

    Two teenage daughters who are both pissed at me because I didn't do what they wanted when they wanted it and how they wanted it.
    = I am a worthless mother that can't even make her own kids love her. I should just move out and leave them with husband because he could parent them so much better.

    Having a mediator come in and help you work out an issue you have with a coworker.
    = I am such a bother to everyone and I don't bring anything good to this relationship why would the job even want me. They don't have to do this for other workers so I a pain. I am just a worthless worker who will screw it all up anyway.

    You get the point. I have a very hard time not going to a dark place and thinking this way. I have actually had to teach myself ways to get out of it. Certain activities usually do the trick to get me past the worst of it. From there I can start to dig out. Sometimes you just have to find that thing that can pull you back from the edge and cling to it.

    I wish him luck.
  9. in a daze

    in a daze Well-Known Member

    (quote) I have observed that our difficult child kids will "awfulize" to their parents more than to anybody else, ever. Instead of saying one bad/hard thing and then acknowledging a good/easier thing, they will solely focus on the bad/hard things in order to gain our sympathy, our money, our attention, our whatever.

    I honestly do not think the script they use with us is the complete script they use with themselves and with other people.

    Read more: http://www.conductdisorders.com/com...s-life-how-very-very-sad.58930/#ixzz3H5brSLUk

    I completely agree. My son does this. His uncle and his caseworker get the more positive, uplifting side of the story. I've always wondered if this is manipulation, too.

    And the memory of recent and past events? Completely skewed. If you were to talk to my kid, he would tell you his father was abusive, he didn't really need to go to rehab, why did we call the cops, etc.etc. His therapist calls this "revisionist history".
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    Than you for your insight dstc, it is greatly appreciated!

    I recognize some of those thought processes you describe from my son. Or I of course see them more as process of actions, but they are really spot on to some of his behaviours.

    For example the team he was till year and half ago. They really were great to him, really tried to support him. difficult child's version for his last months there and after that was, that they absolutely hated him. He didn't start to miss work though (though I think they probably hoped he would in the end) he said his goodbyes with month long tantrum. And few can throw a tantrum like him. And even after they endured that, his version was, that they hated him. It took him almost a year to start to look at it differently. I heard from someone, that he actually did apologise to few key people last spring, but he hasn't mentioned it to me so I haven't asked.

    He certainly does think that being victimized was his fault. and it doesn't help that he has gotten that message from some others too. Especially soon after it happened (videos made of the incident were laughing stock among his team mates till they matured a bit and understood, the actual seriousness of the whole thing.) And difficult child is acutely aware that many people, including even his dad, can't help but think, that if difficult child were a different person (more socially skilled, more popular, getting along better with his peers), this would had never happened. And that is actually probably true. difficult child was victimized because some didn't like him, some were jealous of him, some found him too arrogant or aloof. And then there is of course all the macho bs about getting victimized, not being strong enough to fight them off and so on.

    difficult child is also a perfectionist, always have been and that too has always caused some 'all or nothing' attitude that causes some similar type of actions.

    You are also right that it is a mind frame he has to learn to let go and fight back. It is not the one that would lead to happy or healthy life. With that I think we come back to the therapy issue. He seems avoidant when someone mentions getting back to more intensive therapy. Not wanting to do the work or simply not up to it at least now? Who knows.

    Of course also medications are bit changed, so getting used to them, and seeing if they help, will take some time. Then there is self harm issue, career issue and so on. I kind of get why the kid has a crappy attitude, I would too...
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
  11. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    I must read more about this.

    This is such an interesting thread. I hope more people share their experiences and insights into this.
  12. dstc_99

    dstc_99 Well-Known Member

    To be honest I think it is probably more about not wanting to relive it all. It's extremely emotional to remember painful things from your past and disect them in order to work through them. I think that is one of the biggest reasons that people fear therapy. They are afraid of the pain. If they are honest they will also admit that they are afraid of finding out that something might truly be wrong with them. That they are more broken than they thought they were.

    It's never easy to admit to the pain, the fear, or the uncertainty and then realize what parts of it are about you and what parts of it are about the person who victimized you. I never wanted to think that I could have played a part in what happened to me. Reality is that I did play a part. My personaliy, the physical location, my size, my smarts, and alot of other things are things that are mine to own up to. Did I do anything wrong. NOPE but just by being me I attracted my victimizer. I just had to realize at some point that there were things I could have done differently and ways I could have been smarter. Those were my things I had to take responsibility for. All the rest of it wasn't mine to feel bad for. I was the victim.

    I really hope your difficult child has enough support to let go of the fear and get the help. It doesnt fix everything but it opens you up to the good again.
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  13. nlj

    nlj Well-Known Member

    Yes I agree, that is my experience. The one time I went for counselling, after it was strongly recommended, I found the experience very negative and traumatic. It opened wounds and left me with no way of dealing with them. I also felt that the counsellor had his own agenda and was constantly trying to lead the 'conversation' in a particular direction. I definitely don't think it's the answer for everyone or the answer for everything. Nature has provided us with protective mechanisms for burying past hurt, and it's not always for the best to dig it up. The issues raised here about distorted or false memories is also very interesting and the different perspectives that we may have on shared memories. Philosophy asks "what is truth?" and suggests that rather than trying to define truth, we should think about being able to recognise it reliably when it appears. I have a problem recognising the whole truth in my son's view of his life.