Some very sincere thanks to all of you

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by mrsammler, Jun 17, 2011.

  1. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    Just a quick note--moderators, feel free to close it out soon--to thank everyone here for tolerating my early posts, most of which were judgmental and angry (at my nephew difficult child and his enabling mother, but by transference I displaced it onto others here) and stern--"Let him plummet! He doesn't deserve any consideration, after what he's done!", etc etc), which received from entirely justified chides from many of you. I've calmed down, read and learned a TON from all of you, and really gotten to a much, much wiser and more productive place as a consequence--and, most important of all, I've begun to feel that I can really help a few people every now and again, when I remember to just stick to what I know well and otherwise just listen, listen, listen. I've seen my member status gradually inch upward from Newbie (and god knows I was, a very raw Newbie) to "learning the ropes" and then, just tonight, to "apprentice," and you don't know how much that means to me--I guess it must be like how it feels for an alcoholic to earn those early poker chips in recovery. But I've learned so much, come to empathize and understand so much that I originally just regarded sourly and with an attitude of superior "wisdom," and that has helped me enormously as I come to terms with my experience of the difficult child in my family--and as I've learned to occasionally be useful to others here, when the context of a thread permits my slender experience to do that. So thanks to all of you--very sincerely.

    OK, end of sidebar--thanks for listening.
  2. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Welcome to the world of apprenticeship. Listening and learning is the best we can do for ourselves and our kids. Sharing is what we can do to give back. Glad you opened your mind and your heart.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    I think most of us discover the board when we're sort of raw, angry not just at our lives with our difficult children but at the world in general for many reasons.... That's not so unusual.

    I've seen the changes in your posts and responses, different but still similar to others of us here. And I thought to myself, he's learning, and that is a good thing.

    I've been here for more than a decade. My kids are grown. Nichole and Travis are both doing well and have been for some time now. Katie is the only active difficult child I have, and I don't think that is going to change. Yet I'm here pretty much 7 days a week, 365 days a year all these years. I'm still learning here. I think the board would have to cease to exist for me not to visit it everyday. lol

    Congrats on the apprentice.

  4. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    You've come a long way. Welcome. :)
  5. Star*

    Star* call 911

    It certainly takes all kinds to make the world go round doesn't it, and this board will certainly give you quite the 'merry' go 'round. The great part about that? Once you go 'round? You really get to know a lot about things you you never thought you wanted to know about, but now have a deeper appreication to see such a larger picture of everyone's view. Peace is a wonderful thing. However you got there - Good to have you (again)
  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    I am impressed that you were able to hear us and stick around and learn more!! Thank you for that.... by the way I think you and my husband would get along he also bike rides for exercise and is more than twice his sons age. LOL.
  7. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I have to say as a 12 year member here, this is the most impressive post I've ever read here. I've seen people learn here and grow from it and watched them change and widen their views and are such enjoyable long term members now. I've seen others be unable to listen and learn and realize that they, along with the rest of us, can always find a way to learn from others experience. That we never get to be experts, we constantly can learn more and grow. Those members usually disappear without warning for good, or they stalk off with a angry/hurt post (which nobody ever wants to see happen!) and sometimes pop up down the line when they are ready to join the rest of us in learning.
    I too have seen growth in your posts and this post proves why forums like this make a true difference in our lives.
    You know, I wonder if your sister ever realized you were so upset by the series of events when you were there, and I wonder if she at any time felt judged. As a sister whose brother left me at times feeling judged and found wanting, I know it would mean the world if he ever came to me to say that he did his best with what he knew at the time, but that he might not have been right all the time and that he's been learning and growing and hopes that I don't ever feel judged again. Overall, a person willing and committed to learning and growth can only do good for difficult child family members. Something tells me combining this growth of yours along with your obvious desire to love your nephew and support your sister might mean even without being involved full time anymore, you might have something unique to offer now that might just over time be invaluable.
    Keep it up :)
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Wow I agree!!!! This post makes me really happy.
    To think that all of our hardships with our kids could enlighten someone else, makes swallowing the "difficult child reality pill" a little easier to swallow :)

    Thanks for posting this!!! Kinda made my day.
  9. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Thanks, Mr. S.

    Your post means a lot to a lot of us. the change in you is pretty impressive and we have seen many people come and go who never got to that point. My difficult child is grown and has been out of my home for many years now, but like Hound Dog I am here every day. This is my family as much as the one I was born into. Or more. I am glad that you could move past that reactionary harsh hurt that you had when you got here and learn that maybe there was more going on than you could handle.

    I still think it was a very loving and amazing thing that you did for your sister and nephew. Regardless of the outcome, you did the best you could at that time to try to help. You had your own kids in another part of country and you still sacrificed to go and try to help your sis and nephew. That is HUGE. So many of us have families that are happy to tell us how we have mucked things up and how our every move with our difficult children is wrong but we still cannot get anyone to actually DO anything but criticize and judge us. Or they fall for the difficult child-isms that place the blame on us and they do things to make everything worse for us and our difficult children.

    The suggestion to let your sis know that you were doing what you could and hope she understands that you were so strongly upset by the entire experience that you did/said things that might have made her feel judged is great. And that you hope in the future you won't make her feel that way, of course.

    You have become a very welcome member of our family and I for one really enjoy seeing your perspective on things. So often it us just us moms and Marg's Man here, with maybe 1 or 2 other men. Men truly see the world diffeerently than we do and hearing a male viewpoint that has real difficult child experience behind it is truly helpful. At least to me.
  10. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    This is a beautiful post. I have really enjoyed your writings.

    In the past, some have written here with-o any kind of empathy, and I do think the message can get lost this way. And now it seems you are showing empathy for your nephew and trying to look at that very difficult situation from a variety of angles.

    When there was some confusion about you posts in May, I wrote the following in the thread to you:

    "mrsammler Keeping in mind some of these thoughts and sensitivities...I do hope you will continue your posts.
    Sometimes it takes someone close to the situation....yet not excessively close (like mom or dad) to see something from a different//new perspective.
    I DO wish I had someone in my life to show me with respect, kindness, wisdom, empathy and care all the different ways of looking at my situation.
    All our situations are unique, including my own. But I think it is helpful to take in new points of view now and again"

    You have been an awesome contributor to this forum!
  11. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I really appreciate all of the kind and supportive notes here--more than you can know, I think. As for my trying to renew contact with my estranged sister and her difficult child son, as much as I can understand your encouragement that I do this, I think that bridge is forever burned. I left there in great but unspoken (mostly) anger in May '10, ready and needful to resume my life in Chicago, and sent an email to her in early July wherein I laid out all of my concerns and misgivings about how she was handling the whole situation there, and it was very blistering in its communication of all of my grievances about the whole experience. I very much doubt that she and I will ever speak again. And really, I think I had done all of the good I could do there and was frustratedly done with their situation--I had my own children and career and life to resume, and there was no end in sight to her dysfunctional enablement, and her difficult child's ongoing exploitation and predation. It was best that I cut the cord and call it a finished chapter in my life. I wish it weren't so, but I also needed to get some "clearance" from all of that, given how very embedded I had been in it, and this was the only way that I could see do attain that. My email wasn't a rage--it was plainspoken and direct and very emphatic--but it was conclusive. But I appreciate the wishes noted here that I might somehow repair or renew that connection.

    If any of you have experience of the kind I've described over time--i.e., of a family member who "stepped up" and helped out and then left in anger and frustration, please do advise. But my sense is that my situation regarding all of that was/is fairly unusual, and I managed it, warts and all, as best as I could at the time. But again, I appreciate the kind words and encouragement here about it. I wish it had ended differently, but it is what it is.
  12. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I lost my sister 3 years ago unexpectedly and tragically. Previously we had many unfortunate conversations, arguments, and letters regarding my son, yet thankfully, before she died we had resolved to forgive, love, and accept. We had a couple of years of love and acceptance before she died and for that I am truly, unequivocally grateful. For had she died, with bitterness in her heart towards me and unresolved issues towards Matt, her death would have been a much more complicated wound to heal, than it already is.She was never able to reconcile with my parents, and my dad died 3 months ago with that sadness still heavy in his heart.I deeply encourage you to seek out some form of communication with your sister and nephew, even if it is simply an I love you every couple of months. For we never know what the future holds, and despite actions love is unconditional.
  13. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks, Mr S! Every situation is different and every member takes what they need from the site. You are wiser, but you still have no answers to 'fix' your sister's situation.

    However, I would certainly apologize and explain to her that you need time to figure it all out in your mind and you have learned alot about what she goes through. It can't hurt, that is for sure.

    Frankly, she needs you. She really does. Even if she does not realize or admit it. She needs you. We all truly need family to support us and understand. And it is actually rare for a family member to understand. But, you have taken that time & effort to actually try to understand her.
  14. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I haven't read all your posts re: your sister's situation with your nephew. However, since you have referenced it often, I have a good general understanding. From what I can piece together, you did your best to offer yourself both in terms of supportive advice and in terms of literally being present during very trying times.

    Helping a close family member, as best as you are able, during a crisis, seems appropriate. But there are time and other limits.

    Just like many of us have learned/are learning to do here, perhaps detachment is very much what you needed to do and did do with your sister. A wise move...

    Sort of step away from the situation, which after all, in reality is her concern and not yours.

    You can not care for her and her problems, more than you would care for your own. So, you went your way to do what you needed to do. You were not self-centered or uncaring. As near as I can tell, you offered your help, but it was time to move forward.

    Perhaps in the might open the door to talk with your sister...have limited (if necessary) conversations with your her that are cordial and supportive. And by supportive...I mean "leand an ear." Be empathetic. But, I think you recognize that you are not going to go into that situation any further.

    You are not responsible for your sister's life. You are not responsible for your nephew.

    You are responsible for any young children in your home. You are responsible for your life and your marriage....

    Good that your email was not a rage. Hindsight is 20/20...perhaps you are thinking you would have done certain things a little differently.

    But, few...if any of us are prepared for such enormous difficulties in life. It is impossible.

    Like you and my husband like to say "It is what it is....." expression fast becoming my fave as well.
    Lasted edited by : Jun 20, 2011
  15. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I haven't been a part of many of the conversations you have been in, but I have read many, and I so hoped you would stick around. I think it helps us all to have people from varying relationships with the difficult child's in their lives. So I'm glad you stayed.

    Personally, with my darkest moments with my difficult children, the one thing, and sometimes the ONLY thing, that gets me through is the knowledge that if I can help another person through a similar rough spot with their child, then its not for naught, and all worthwhile. So, with your post, you've helped me to feel that in some little teeny tiny way, my mission has been accomplished. Thanks. :)

    And if you truly never do see your difficult child again, the fact that you have chosen to stay and learn and, in turn, educate others about this life....Oh...where would the world be if everyone learned jsut a smidgen??? Thanks. Again.

    And you just never know what lies around the next bend. Especially in the world of difficult child's. As an adult, your nephew may remember your attempts to help, and may come to a point in his life that he wants to turn things around. The thing I learned first about dealing with difficult child's is that control is a myth. We have no control over another human being, ever. And that the only thing you can expect is the unexpected.

    Kudos to you. Glad you're here.
  16. mrsammler

    mrsammler Guest

    I can't imagine another moment of interaction with my nephew difficult child in my life. I live far, far away, but he knows where I live (I let him stay with me for 2 weeks during all of that--he drank a bottle of cold syrup one night, for the buzz, and then raged at me when I "called him out" about it, among several other difficulties and tense moments) and I have wondered at times if he might eventually come after me for vengeance if/when he ever has nothing left to lose--he hates me for having spoiled his reign of terror at his mother's place--as seems fairly likely (every time my sis and I got close to throwing him out, he would attack me, even if I had nothing do with the incident, as he knew that without me there, his mother wouldn't have the firepower to exert her will over him, and this infuriated him). But for the most part, he and his mother, as far as I can tell, are determined to prove me wrong via him living correctly and advancing smoothly into adulthood, which desire, on both their parts, I entirely applaud--I can think of no outcome I would desire more than that, even if it's driven by "Let's prove Uncle xxx wrong."

    But there have been many, many signs since I left that prove this a naive hope. I won't enumerate them, but things haven't gotten much better there, except that he's living apart from his mother and younger brother (at his mother's expense), which is a good but obviously not permanent situation (she won't pay all his bills forever). He has attempted community college, for instance, but has made zero progress--i.e., dropped all of his classes both semesters--because, he reports, he "can't sleep at night" and thus can't attend classes, which is a natural byproduct of having been permitted to sleep all day and stay up all night, usually partying, since he was about 14, as well as smoking pot every day and night, which makes it impossible and get anything done during the day. He *has* managed not to be arrested during the last year (remarkable, given his track record in the 2 years prior to that, during which there were several traffic and pot-related arrests), which I suppose is a kind of triumph if you want to define "triumph" downward to "not getting arrested but otherwise making no progress." He still parties and smokes pot with friends very routinely, per various YouTube clips I've seen in the last year, and apparently (per Facebook posts) does little more than skateboard every day with buddies, and all that goes along with that. He was always very inclined to take/shoot and deal drugs, but since there's been no arrests for this, and since his mother pays all of his bills, he's either not doing that anymore or he's being very cagey about it so as not to lose the maternal dole.

    But again, I hope never to see him again. I very sincerely doubt that he'll ever turn things around because, from what I hear, he's under no pressure to change and experience has taught me that people don't change, especially in adulthood, if they're not compelled to via consequences for their actions. And he was very, very violent and hateful toward me throughout my time at my sister's, so I have no reason to anticipate any change in his orientation to me in the interim.

    I'm sorry that my attitude about him--and indirectly about my sister--is so sour, but I've learned over time not to expect changes from people who aren't changing their behaviors and/or having to deal with consequences for behavior. Frankly, if he miraculously starts treating his mother and brother decently and turns his life around, I'd be very pleased to hear it, even if I remain anathema to both of them. But I've managed a certain emotional victory, for myself, in not thinking much about him anymore and just getting on with my life instead--a pretty complicated and rewarding but challenging life on its own terms, like most other lives--and I'm not sure I'd want much to do with him, given all that he did (his behavior toward me was very consistently vile and violent for a year, and was in many ways even worse--stealing, lying, menacing--toward his mother and brother throughout that time as well. He just exhausted all of the avuncular love I had for him--what was a great abundance for a good long while, until it ran out--and I have nothing left "in the tank" but repulsion and avoidance now. I'm sorry if that sounds unforgiving or unhelpful, but that is, I think, a fairly understandable reaction to a kid who behaved like that at 17 and 18 toward you, not for a little while or for short bouts, but throughout 14 months of cohabitation. A parent's love doesn't ever die, but an uncle's or family friend's? It can die. He killed it, at least for me. And I think there's a useful lesson in that for him, if he can ever absorb it: you can lose people in your life, even family members, if you abuse them enough and for long enough. He lost me--or I gave up on him. Either way, I'm glad it's over. I really don't want to ever see him again.

    As for his mother, I have very complicated feelings there. She will always be my little sister, but I have left out a ton of things about her actions/conduct toward me during that time, especially in the last 4 months or so, that I don't wish to relate, but which made it nearly impossible for me to regard her favorably any more. I don't want her to be unhappy or to be hurt or die at his hand (a real possibility if she ever cuts him off fnancially--he "loves" her while she's paying all of his bills but otherwise hates her very viscerally, which he has admitted many times--has spat in her face, marauded her physically when I wasn't there, etc etc), but I can't spend any more emotional energy on her after all that has happened, especially given my own children's needs. As for them, I want them to have good relations with her and especially with her younger son (who's entirely innocent in all of this, and a great kid at 16), and they are trying to do that, especially with the younger brother--not so much with their aunt, given all that she did to me wrt the difficult child. It's all a bad mess, but it's a mess we've all made our adjustments to, and life has gone on productively for us. In some ways, it's the classic difficult child/sociopath-in-the-family (as I'm certain that's the problem) scenario: he has driven us all apart and become the "black sun" around which his immediate family orbits, and around which all of us orbited during the time I was in his mother's home. We've all learned to get past it, but not without some real effort and pain, and of course it is very sad that my sister has become so cut off from the rest of us in the extended family. We just can't deal with her anymore while she remains in this very dysfunctional enabling/defending relationship with her unrepentant, still-malfunctioning difficult child.

    Ugh. Exhausting even to describe all that. Thanks for listening. It's a terrible mess.