Peter Lanza's story and our connection to it

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Childofmine, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Peter Lanza, the father of Adam Lanza, just told his story about being Adam's father, to a New Yorker reporter.

    I just read it.

    Throughout the story are threads of what we talk about right here on this site.

    My heart goes out to Peter Lanza. He and his wife, Adam's mother, who Adam killed, did everything---and more---throughout Adam's life, to get him help and to help him. You can parse what Nancy Lanza did and didn't do for her son, up until the time he shot her four times.

    You can parse that Peter and Nancy divorced, and Peter became more distant from Adam and the family in Adam's last years of life.

    The whole story is profoundly sad, and as importantly, I read it carefully to see what I can learn from it about my own situation.

    Some things I have concluded immediately:

    1. You can't control what other people do.
    2. You can't know ahead of time what other people might do.
    3. You can only do the best you can every day.
    4. Adam was in terrible hurt and pain. Nobody could seem to reach him, no matter how hard they tried, including the professionals.
    5. Love does not conquer all---that is something I have learned and is confirmed here in Adam's story.
    6. Nancy Lanza did the best she could. Peter Lanza did the best he could. They are and were not perfect, and perfection is not the standard in this life. None of us can be perfect.
    7. There is deep sadness and hurt to be endured in this life. This is one of the worst that Peter and his other son, Ryan, will have to endure for the rest of their lives. Peter sounds like a very decent man who tried hard to do the right thing. I pray that people will have compassion and support for him.
    8. We can only do what we believe is best in our own situations.
    9. I believe in learning all I can to try to help myself.
    10. I believe in learning all I can to try to help my son.
    11. Then, it is my responsibility to try, to the best of my ability, to live what I learn.
    12. I am so deeply sorry for the parents and families of the Newtown children.

    I would interested in hearing what you all learn from this painful and tragic story.
  2. Echolette

    Echolette Well-Known Member

    Ah Child, you hit close to the bone with that!

    I am always hesitant to read about the families and lives of these young men (the mass murderers, Lanza in particular). Because...all of us with sons who behave in ways that are inexplicable, incomprehensible..must, sometimes, see that we could be those families. Because I so totally don't understand difficult child's head, his fears, his anger, his anything...and because those crimes are so incomprehensible...I can draw a line and connect the dots between one incomprehensible thing and another.

    I used to have a dream that difficult child pushed his twin sister over the stair rail (we had open central stairs that went up to the third floor) and she died. When they were about 3 years old. I can hardly bear to remember that dream even know...the overwhelming tone of it was "randomness" and grief and loss.

    difficult child, always more sweet and goofy than angry or hostile, used to leave knives plunged into pillows in some of the lesser-used rooms of the house (storage rooms). I used to insist it couldn't be he, because it didn't fit with the "he" I knew (goofy and clueless.

    So I get it. I guess we all get it to greater or lesser degrees. I don't see that the Lanza family could have prevented this. I laugh bitterly at the comment in the article by some ignorant parent that the Lanzas' should have "forced treatment" since we all know that that is completely impossible.

    I guess she enabled him, and she died because of it. I guess she could have made him leave home. She hadn't gotten to the detachment state yet, she was trying desperately to connect with her lonely angry disabled son. Whom she loved. And who presented himself as evil incarnate for as much time as it took to kill people.

    It is an awful story, Child. I don't know where to go with it. I don't know what to do with how it reflects on our lives.

    When I was at a meditation retreat this summer one of the parents from Sandy Hook was there. He lost his only son, 8 years old. He asked Thich Nhat Hahn how we could make sure this never happens again..and Thich Nhat Hahn said it would happen again. Then he went on to talk about needing community, but I don't remember that part.

    I the end...the only thing is kindness. Detach with love for our own. Kindness towards the others. Maybe work for better mental health care. and I guess, too that, earthquakes and tsunamis and sinkholes and wildfires happen, and that we are not entitled to be safe or to live for four score and ten. Some combination of those thoughts holds the answer for me.

    A little babbling, I know. But I felt compelled to respond. I didn't want to read that article, Child, but I did, because I wanted to honor Peter's suffering.


  3. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    I know Echo. I almost didn't post it because it is very close to the bone for all of us.

    That is the strength of this site---the clear-eyed honesty and willingness to look at things, the really hard and horrible things.

    I would suggest that people don't read the article unless they are up to it at that point.

    Today, here, it is a beautiful sunny day. I am feeling stronger today. I was able to read it.

    I now am going to put that and this aside and get to work.

    I don't want to turn away, myself, from the hardest things. I want to be able to take them in, see what I can learn from it, feel compassion and kindness toward others (like you said and I believe: Only kindness matters.).

    Some days I can't do it. Today I thought I could.

    Hugs and prayers and the best of today's sunshine I wish for you today. I told SO last night, I really want to go on a vacation with these people. Is that too pie in the sky? I wouldn't want to ruin what we have going here at all. Anyway, time will tell.

    Thanks, Echo, for responding to this and stating your feelings about it. I know it is hard.

    PS. I want to draw no "real" conclusions about Nancy. I imagine her doing the very best she could do with what she knew, felt and believed. What more can a person do, than that?
  4. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I once read a book of a father of one boy, who did something similar in our neck of woods. difficult child was around ten at the time. It absolutely chilled me to my bones already then. When he described his son as a young boy, he so much reminded of my difficult child and I could so easily imagine his life having turns that would lead to something like that.

    Kids that do these things don't seem to be those openly aggressive proactive kids that get all the attention for their violent behaviour. They seem to be more like my son. Sly, passive aggressive, not really expressing their anger in direct ways, acting out from fear. And certainly not the top dogs or biggest bullies of the school yard, but other way around. And that was very much my kid.

    I still think that the most I have to be grateful for him happening to be athletic talent. That was an only way he could have recognition, and even some acceptance, when they needed him to win them some games etc. from his peers. And I believe that with him, that was a game changer, not anything we did or did not do.
  5. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    We must have posted about the same time. Beyond "sad" I couldn't (and can't) even bring myself to say the way I feel about this story. I just can't...
  6. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    "It's strange to live in a state of sustained incomprehension about what has become the most important fact about you."

    Peter Lanza

    "It doesn't have to be understood to be real."

    Peter Lanza

    "This defines who I am and I can't stand that, but you have to accept it."

    Peter Lanza

    "...there could be no remembering him outside of who he became."

    Peter Lanza

    The strongest impression I came away with is that, like so many of us here, when faced with something so incomprehensibly bad, the father consciously intends to do what good he can. He visited with those families whose children's lives were taken by his child. His grief for them, for their grief, for their loss, is as intense as his grief for the slow inevitability, for the disappearance and transformation of his own son.

    I am struck by his courage, by his refusal to justify or rationalize, by his commitment to standing up, to doing what he can.

    I wish he could know about us, wish he could come here and heal and share and take strength from us and with us.

    For those who haven't read Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning, many of us here have taken strength from that book. He writes about the horror of the concentration camps in the sense of having been stripped of his identity, of his humanity, and about what it is to be human. That when everything is taken away, then all we have is how we will chose to respond.

    Elie Weisel's Night is a beautifully written compilation of wisdom and pain.

    This is from Ette Hilesum's posthumously published journal, An Interrupted Life:

    "I knew at once: I shall have to pray for this German soldier. Out of all those uniforms one has been given a face, now. There will be other faces as well, in which we can read something we understand: that German soldiers suffer, as well. There are no frontiers between suffering people, and we must pray for them all."

    Here is another:

    "And you must be able to bear your sorrow; even if it seems to crush you, you will be able to stand up again, for human beings are so strong, and your sorrow must become an integral part of yourself, part of your body and your soul, you mustn't run away from it, but bear it like an adult. Do not relieve your feelings through hatred, do not seek to be avenged....

    Give your sorrow all the space and shelter in yourself that it is due, for is everyone bears his grief honestly and courageously, the sorrow that now fills the world will abate. But if you do not clear a decent shelter for your sorrow, and instead reserve most of the space inside you for hatred and thoughts of revenge ~ from which new sorrows will be born for others ~ then sorrow will never cease in this world and multiply. And if you have given sorrow the space its gentle origins demand, then you may truly say: life is beautiful, and so rich. So beautiful and so rich that it makes you want to believe in God."

    Etty Hilesum was killed in a concentration camp. Her journal was found after the War and was edited and published posthumously.

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  7. recoveringenabler

    recoveringenabler Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As I read through all of your responses, I was once again struck by the profound level of suffering we have all endured.........with our kids............some of us with our parents too...............and it touched me that here we are, connected on an anonymous site through our pain and our love............through our desire to find meaning in the suffering and to emerge from it with our compassion and our hearts intact, to learn to do the seemingly impossible, to accept that there is nothing we can do to alleviate the suffering of our kids.

    Our collective desire to be okay in ourselves in the midst of this devastation speaks volumes about the human spirit and what we are capable of not only enduring, not only rising above, but to recognize, as COM said, that love does not conquer all, but yet, love is necessary to hold in our not allow bitterness, hatred, anger and fear to overtake us but to keep our hearts opened and vulnerable to the next step, whatever that be okay on the brink of disaster every day, to learn how to live in uncertainty and chaos with a willingness to show up, even though it hurts, even though tomorrow it may be exactly the same............

    I am awed by the courage each of you has to just show up..........

    We share a unique bond here, it's born out of our pain, but the glue is our humanity, our love for our children, our human hearts which, in the end, all beat with the same rhythm of life...........we all know how that father feels. How that mother felt. We all know suffering. We can all feel empathy for all of those families who've lost someone they loved......... a child.............we all know what that feels like.

    I've been surrounded by mental illness my whole life. I used to wonder about the why of that. Like all of you, through my own pain, through my own searching for answers, through my own sheer force of will to survive and make the pain for my brother, my sister, my daughter.......go away......... I have become someone who can stand in the middle of enormous pain and not shrink away from it, I can be present. For my own pain. And for yours. So can you. I can get up in the morning and do what needs to be done. So can you. I can still see beauty, I can still feel love, I can still be in awe. I am one strong 'mother'. So are all of you.

    And, I am deeply touched to be here with all of you.

    May God bless each and every one of us.
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  8. Childofmine

    Childofmine one day at a time Staff Member

    Thanks RE for that post. I, too, am struck by our desire to survive. That instinct is so primitive and so core in all of us, and I believe that is a hopeful thing to realize for our difficult children as well. I know some don't survive, but most do. They keep on, regardless. I am grateful for that instinct to survive that God has given all of us. I hope that instinct gives my son some armor out on the street.

    I have seen a lot of coverage on Peter Lanza in the past 36 hours. The rage and blame against him is shocking to me. The desire to blame someone for Newtown is also a primitive and instinctive desire, and I understand that.

    It is easier and preferable to blame someone else and to focus all of our energy there. Then, we don't have to look at ourselves, our culture, our society and take any responsibility. And see what we need to do differently.

    We can just blame Adam Lanza's mother, who is dead, and his father, who is still standing, imperfect and trying, it sounds like, to make all of this insanity mean something.

    I wish we could all remember (including me) that only kindness matters. Kindness to ourselves first. Kindness to our difficult children, no matter what they are saying and doing and causing (physical distance really helps me be MUCH kinder, LOL). And kindness to others and toward others, especially those we don't know and will never know. Why do we assume the worst about them?

    It seems to me that this man is trying to do something in his own small way to help. His own son, whom I am sure he loved so very much, has created a black cloud over the remaining members of this family that will never dissipate. He couldn't control what his son Adam did. Like we can't control what our difficult children do.

    I don't know. I just feel compassion for all of them and of course, for those families who lost their own precious children. The whole thing is tragic. What can I learn from it?

    What I am learning right now is that we just really, really, really, can't control somebody else. No matter what.
  9. Pandora

    Pandora Member

    In a lot of the trashing of Peter Lanza, one fact seems to be lost on many of the trashers .... Adam Lanza was no longer a child. He was 20, an adult. Too much of the tone seems to regard Adam as something akin to a 10 year old who was being resistive to seeing his father, and his father just letting it go. Not sure if this is to more demonize Peter or infantilize Adam.