Feel like an idiot

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by katya02, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    difficult child has been officially doing what he needs to do for some time: going to work when scheduled (which is less than 20 hours/wk), doing his community service which he completed today, going to his last rehab counseling session. He has been clean and sober. He hasn't damaged the house or raged.

    He also hasn't kept his room or bathroom clean per house rules, hasn't done chores as asked (with a rare exception or two), sleeps all day, stays up all night, complains that we aren't sensitive enough to his needs i.e. total quiet all day so he can sleep, and plenty of cold cuts in the fridge; is sullen and won't respond politely to civil conversation; uses huge amounts of whatever food is his choice of the week, whether cold cut sandwiches or expensive berries for smoothies; generally lives a life apart, making it clear that he resents and despises us without getting into fights about it, and taking as much as he can get from us. I've been talking to him about making plans for June, when his probation is done and he has his license back, encouraging him to think outside the box and even consider going to northern Alberta to make good money on the pipeline, or taking an interesting sort of job somewhere else interesting. No dice. difficult child put me off at first, then said he'd like to live in Toronto (!), then said he just can't hop from job to job so leave him alone.

    Today as we walked in the door (I drove him home from his community service work), husband told difficult child that he is enforcing consequences for having chew in his bedroom, since we went over all that weeks ago and husband just found wads of chew staining the carpet in difficult child's room. So no laptop, no TV, no video games. Just time to sleep (difficult child says he just can't sleep and is always exhausted, therefore can't do anything we ask him to), read, and plan for his future.

    difficult child got me alone shortly after and told me he's moving in with a friend from work, since, he said, he was 'one second from choking the life out of husband' when husband told him we'd be enforcing consequences.

    I think I'm just numb to threats. At the time I just said, then move out! Get on the phone with your friend and go, just don't keep talking about how intolerable it is to live here and then keep taking everything we give you! Step up and show some integrity.

    Only after, when I was driving daughter to a friend's did it really hit me how awful a thing difficult child had said. When I came back it seems it had occurred to difficult child because he immediately began a typical non-apology, i.e. 'I'm sorry I said some things I didn't mean, but you have to admit you haven't kept up your end of the rules either, so it's really not fair to be hard on me' sort of carp. I looked at him and told him that terroristic threats violate his probation and if he says ANYTHING like that again I WILL violate his probation. He didn't know what that meant! Then argued that he hadn't made terroristic threats but I said, threatening to choke the life out of someone qualifies. Or we could check with the police if you want. That's all I've seen or heard of him for awhile now.

    I think I've become too used to the threats and violent talk. Does anyone else have their difficult children talk to them in these terms, even if about someone else?
  2. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    I have, Katya. difficult child 2 is full of bluster and thinks it's okay to threaten us. We just had a HUGE altercation over the phone because he wanted to come down from New England to pick up his stuff, accompanied by two people whom we have never met. We told him it was too short notice and we were unprepared to receive them, that we would UPS his clothes to him. He threatened to have the police accompany him to our house so we could not deny him access. Gratitude is not part of his vocabulary. While he was living here I allowed him to use my car to get around and go to work. I am done with him. I sooo feel your pain.
  3. standswithcourage

    standswithcourage New Member

    Yes my son has threatened my husband and his Dad. he threatens to put sugar in the gas tank or slit the tires on the car, etc. however he doesnt live here now - i know he is sick but we couldnt stand the threats and lifestyle anymore - it was making our lives chaos. i understand your pain.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Well, to play devil's advocate......stating one wants to choke the life out of someone....is usually just a phrase of frustration or anger. Not usually meant as a physical threat.

    Notice I said "usually". Because that depends on the person and how it was said.

    Still, I think your response to him to "just move out then" was appropriate.

    Pain is putting Nichole in a mega *itchy mood these past couple days. And she's turning it once again on her brother. (I dunno why she always picks him) We got into it last night. I'm not putting up with that nonsense from a girl who is pushing 20. So she shoots back with why don't I make Travis move out? I told her if she wasn't happy here, then grab her stuff and go, no skin off my nose. And the tone of my voice told her in no uncertain terms that I wasn't kidding either.

    They are grown ups. They seem to forget that when it's convenient, and to remember when it suits.

    Nichole backed down fast upon being told to move. And she's been sweetness and light today. But I said what I meant. She's grown. She doesn't like the statis quo? Fine, get your own place and stop complaining. ugh!

    Stick to your guns. I feel your frustration.

  5. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I think you handled the conversation with your difficult child the right way.

    That being said, I agree with you that over time we do become numb to threats. We get so used to just surviving, getting through the daily he** that is life with a difficult child.

    Behaviour that would be totally over the top from a easy child becomes just run of the mill. It is very hard to maintain a clear perspective when you're dealing with so much unacceptable behaviour all the time, and it's so easy to let anything short of physical violence just slide. The "At least this time he didn't come at me with a knife" situation.

    Lots of people make idle threats out of anger. However, when someone who has a history of erratic behaviour, violence, run-ins with the law, etc. says something like that, I tend to treat it differently. With my difficult child and his history, when he says, "I want to choke so-and-so", So-and-so is liable to find himself with difficult child's hands around his neck. So...yes, I do treat things like that with all seriousness.

  6. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks for your thoughts. I'm wondering this morning if I overreacted because difficult child hasn't been physically violent toward any of us since last summer, when he chased easy child 3 around the dining room swinging at him, and even then I think he didn't really intend to make contact - he wanted to intimidate. But he's done the weird knife stuff in the house and he uses low-level physical intimidation off and on. "At least he didn't come at me with a knife" is exactly the thought process ... 'he says offensive and crazy-sounding things but he didn't actually hit me or pick up a weapon, so it must not have been that bad'.

    I sort of wish I hadn't said I would call the P.O. and report him if he does it again. I don't know what the circumstance might be, and now if I don't report him it'll send a message that he can say anything. I know we all make judgments about whether to report things to POs given individual circumstances and I think that's an appropriate thing. Now I feel like I've tied my own hands to some extent.

    husband is taking easy child 1 and easy child 3 to Canada this weekend to see husband's ailing mother. I'll be home with daughter and difficult child. I think difficult child is going to avoid me, although I'm sure he'll expect to be driven to work and home again at 3 am! I'm not looking forward to the weekend, I hate this malaise that consumes the family when things are going sour with difficult child. I want to focus on other things! I wish so much that difficult child would make peaceful plans to move in with a friend; I would help him move, give him kitchen stuff we have saved for the kids moving out, etc. I want him to succeed. I don't want him to either a) leave and go back to drugs or b) continue living this hostile non-life in our basement working a few hours per week, planning nothing, and 'living' online.

    Just feel like the detachment and firm principles I've been developing and working on are a little shaky and beaten down. I guess it'll be hard when he goes, given the way he'll probably leave. Maybe I should just prepare for that, assume the worst, and then if it's better it'll be a nice surprise.
  7. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    It isn't like your son didn't know what he was saying or the seriousness of his words. His "non-apology" demonstrates that he knew exactly what he was doing.

    I would treat it very seriously. Violence in any fashion is not acceptable. Period.

    My caution to you is to make sure that whatever you say you will do...you really will do if you have to....ie....if you say you will call his probation officer if he says something like that again, make sure it's something you really will do or your credibility will be toast and his actions will escalate.

    I don't envy you. Hang in there.

  8. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    Katya...I think we were posting at the same time.

  9. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks, Suz. I find I get mushy thinking after things have been fairly peaceful for awhile and my hopes are up regarding future possibilities for difficult child, and then when something ugly happens I'm not as firm as I should be. You're right, now that I've said I'll call the PO re future threats or violent talk, I must and will do it. I'm coming to the sad conclusion that difficult child will only respect someone who pushes back much harder than he does. He'll hate them but he'll respect them.

    I know the advice given to abused women re verbal violence and intimidation, cycles of escalation, etc. It can go on between any two adults, not just husband and wife. I know that this will escalate, as you say, if I blink.

    Where do these personalities come from? easy child 3 says 'These people come from somewhere, Mom. We happen to have one in our family.' How can a kid grow up with three sibs who all have consciences and empathy, and have neither? The only creature he appears to really love is our dog Molly. He cried when we thought we might have to put her down, but since then he hasn't taken her outside once or spent time patting or massaging her. Unlike daughter who takes Molly out in her bare feet (daughter's) in the snow, if Molly is anxious to go!
  10. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I expect this is a rhetorical question...the angst of a distraught mother. I wish I knew the answer.

    What kept me going all those years when Rob was so awful was knowing that his life was worse than ours so I always felt an element of sympathy for him even when I was angry with him. It's been in these last couple of years that Rob and I have been able to talk a bit about his rage during those terrible times and even he can't describe where his behavior and attitude came from. I just know that for him, as awful as it was for his Dad and I to watch, living the consequences of his actions was the only thing that finally permeated through Rob's thick skull.

    sigh. It's really difficult all around for the entire family.

  11. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Yes, it's rhetorical. And I do feel sympathy knowing that difficult child lives in this awful aloneness, this perpetual hostility and lack of connection, wanting to be well thought of but resisting all demands that would allow him to show his strengths and good side. It must be horrible to be really disconnected from the people around you, and that's how it seems to be with him.

    This is where we are. It does seem that learning the hard way, suffering more than he needs to, is the only thing that will get through. And difficult child seems to be the one who always gets caught, always gets the full consequence while his buddies run away free, so he does encounter the hard consequences. But that just seems to increase his resentment at 'the system'. I still want and hope good things for him. But it'll probably get worse before it gets better.
  12. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Short update ... difficult child is really, really trying today. He did get up rather late, but got to work on cleaning the boiler room as husband had asked him (contains the weights and fitness stuff we own), actually had a conversation with me, even joked! He also went in early to work to ask if a) he can get more hours and/or b) they would have a problem with him taking on another part-time job, if they don't have more hours for him. He said he will put a post-it note by his name in the office saying he's willing to take any call-in shifts anyone wants to offer.

    husband told him that everything is gone for a period of two weeks, at which time husband will evaluate what difficult child has done toward gaining more work hours and accepting same, looking for a second job if necessary, doing the chores in the house that we've outlined long ago, and being more pleasant. I think he told difficult child that he's ready for difficult child to leave, even if difficult child isn't making enough money to pay for rent and food; that will be difficult child's problem.

    It does seem that a hard enough line is what's needed. I hope so much that this will last longer than a day; I would be the first one cheering difficult child on if he offers his strengths and finds out he can do well! And that other people will value him for good work and integrity, so he doesn't need to live in the basement resenting everybody.

    Hope springs eternal.
  13. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Katya, how is this stress affecting husband?
  14. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Frankly, I think it's killing him slowly. He says he's ready to let difficult child leave, but I know that if that happens under unpleasant circumstances husband will not sleep for weeks, he will become depressed, and probably his chest pain will come back if not an MI. husband has been doing everything he can for cardiac rehab, keeping to the vegan low-fat diet, losing weight, exercising now etc., but he is still very susceptible to stress.

    It's one reason I didn't push the issue when I found chew in difficult child's bedroom a couple of weeks ago. (We have a rule that all tobacco, cigs or chew, must stay in a cabinet by the garage door, not in difficult child's bedroom; any infraction would result in loss of laptop, video games, etc.) I was afraid to have a confrontation that might end in difficult child leaving in anger and going to a bad situation, so soon after husband's MI. But when husband found the chew he put the consequences in place anyway.
  15. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    I'm so sorry, Katya! It's always about the difficult children and the rest of the family be da**ed. You and husband deserve better.
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I am so sorry. Things seems so stressful for you now. I wonder how much difficult child has thought he could get away with because no one would want to make a fuss and stress out your husband? It is the kind of calculating thing my bro would do, and my son did.

    I am glad that husband put consequences into place for the chew. It maybe let you know that you can put consequences into place as needed, some reassurance that simply putting consequences into place as discussed prior will not send your husband into a heart attack.

    I am keeping you in my prayers.
  17. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    You are doing a good job, Katya. I know how hard it is to want to be a loving, warm, sympathetic mom and have to be really hard nosed instead. That was the only thing we could do with my difficult child too. And anytime I started feeling sorry for her and saw her as vulnerable or that she couldn't help how she was it backfired--I had to stay really neutral and matter of fact and sometimes angry.

    We've spoken about why she was so difficult back then (she hasn't lived with us for nearly 3 yrs) and she doesn't understand why, says she really had a bad case of ODD. She says whatever it was we wanted her to do she would do the opposite and now it seems really stupid to her.

    Good luck, stay strong--you are seeing the good behavior it seems to bring about.

  18. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks, guys. I think difficult child has gotten away with everything he could in the past month, knowing I would be reluctant to take things to a fight when husband's health was so fragile. It doesn't make me like him more, that's for sure.

    Every time I act warm and positive it absolutely backfires on me. Last night difficult child came home from work talking about moving in with a co-worker and he actually had a plan for how much money to save, for a location within walking distance of work, and reasons why this co-worker would make a good roommate. I responded positively, encouraging him and saying we would support him taking this step, agreeing that it's time (!), etc. He then segued to saying how hurt he is that husband and I thought he had no plan, how hurtful husband's talk with him was, that we constantly belittle his work and ability and how hurtful it is, etc. etc. Three or four times. I was too tired to engage (3 am after picking him up) and didn't want to play the game anyway. But with him, no good deed goes unpunished.

    Today he's back to complaining. The bubble didn't even last 24 hours. I'm about ready to give him money to move out!!
  19. jbrain

    jbrain Member

    Hi Katya,
    I think I would try to curb any enthusiasm I felt for his positive plans. Just stay neutral when you respond to him and keep it to a minimum. As you said it backfires when you are encouraging and positive so try something different. Sorry the bubble has broken!