Monday, June 13, 2016

Broken Arm

By everything left unspoken, our son continued to stay at our home and we found ourselves constantly walking on egg shells around him--trying to avoid conflict.  It never seemed to work.  

One morning, I was working in our office,  when he came to me and asked if he could have a ride to the skate park.  I told him that I couldn’t take him anywhere until I finished what I was working on. 

Then, the barrage became relentless the entire time that I was trying to finish my work and get ready:  “You have to hurry…  You are making me late…   Will you put my hair in a pony tail?  It doesn’t look right.  Look at all the hair that you didn’t get in it.  I look like a heroin addict today because my hair looks so stupid…  Well, there is no way I can go to Applebee’s to apply for a job looking like this…  Are you almost done?  I was supposed to be there an hour and a half ago…  I can’t find my I.D.  That is just great.  Now what am I going to do without an I.D?”  (It was in the pocket of a pair of his pants).

It was like being with a five year old who has no capacity for patience.  And he was trying MY patience to the point that I wondered if he was purposely goading me into starting a battle.   I was biting my tongue and holding my breath and doing everything I could to keep my cool even though having him want to be in charge of my time schedule was driving me crazy.

I finally was able to drop him off, but of course, in addition to all of the things that I had done so far that day to ruin his life, I topped the morning off when I wouldn’t give him any money for lunch.  He got out and slammed the truck door shut without so much as a “see you later.”

We hadn’t heard from him all day and by that evening, I was more than happy to have some precious “away” time with my husband.  We went out to dinner and had just started to eat our meal when my husband’s phone began to ring and we “missed” 20 phone calls from our son. 

When the phone kept ringing and ringing, it seemed like we might as well just answer his call and find out what was so urgent, even though we would have liked to continue our dinner without the drama that was possibly coming our way.  As soon as my husband said hello, our son colorfully said, “If you cared at all to answer your f-ing phone when your son calls, then you would have found out half an hour ago that I fell at the skate park and broke my f-ing arm.  It is raining and it would be really nice if my “parents” could tear themselves away from whatever they are doing to come and get me.”  When my husband tried to get a word in to ask if the arm was broken or just bruised, our son accused him of being "snippy" with him.

We hurried to finish our meal and then picked him up at a grocery store where he had gone to get out of the tiny bit of rain that had started to come down.  The grocery store happened to be right next to an Insta-care, so I told him that I needed to look at his arm to determine if we needed to stop in at that Insta-care to get an x-ray.    

He was so mad at us for having the nerve to finish eating before we came to get him (even though we DID skip dessert) that he wouldn’t let me look at his arm and refused to see a doctor.  He said, "If you could just be NICE parents and buy me a a Little Caesar’s pizza (since I haven't had anything to eat all day), then, you could just take me home and leave me the hell alone."   

Wanting to avoid one more thing for him to get upset about, we actually did stop to pick up a pizza. 

When he got what he wanted, instead of being a little bit grateful, he unleashed his anger again about the events of the night as if it were our fault that he had hurt his arm and as if he needed to prove that we were terrible parents for thinking he was lying about breaking his arm and making him wait as long as we did before we picked him up.      

It wouldn’t have mattered if we had been five minutes away when he called, he still would have found a reason to take everything out on us.  Even though it was pointless to try to defend ourselves, we told him that we came as soon as we could and that even though OUR meal been cut short, we had just willingly bought HIM a meal and that maybe he should be thankful instead of angry.  When he wouldn't drop it, we suggested that if didn’t want to show any appreciation for what we are able to do for him, then maybe he should stop asking us to do things for him. 

He agreed that he would never ask us for anything.

Again.

At home, he didn’t seem to be in a lot of pain and wouldn't even take the Ibuprofen that I set out for him. 

But, the next morning, he knocked on my bedroom door and said that he thought he probably DID need to go to the doctor.   He finally let me look at his elbow and it was really swollen and he said it hurt really bad.  He wanted to know when I would be able to take him and I told him that I could be ready in about one hour.
 
He said that was okay and then as he turned to leave my room, he told me that I needed to tell his dad to get off the computer so that he could use it while he waited.  I said, “YOU can go ask him if you can use the computer while you are waiting.”

He replied, “He is a dick and will keep using it as long as possible just so that I can't.”  This was as far from the truth as it could get.  If he had asked my husband to use the computer, my husband would have gotten out of the office as soon as possible, just to avoid another fight.

I started laughing because it was so ludicrous that he would say that about my husband, fully expecting that it would make me do what he wanted me to do.  He got angry and said, “What is so funny?  I like jokes.  Please tell me what is so f-ing funny.” 

I said, “That you seriously think that if you call your dad a dick and say awful things about him that I will go ask him to let you use the computer.”

I guess the only thing that he could do with my explanation was get angrier.  I was sitting there in my bed waiting for him to get out of my room so that I could get dressed and ready to take him to the doctor and he wouldn’t stop going on and on with his tirade about how badly I treated him.  After all, he simply wanted to watch some shows on the internet while he ate breakfast and I should have wanted to help him do that.   

I grabbed my phone and began sending text after text to my husband to tell him to come upstairs and rescue me (even though he should have been able to hear that there was an angry exchange going on).   But, his phone was not with him in the office and he had no idea that I needed him. 

I finally told my son that we were finished talking and that he was more than capable of asking his father for the use of the computer.   If he felt that he couldn’t take care of that himself, then he was out of luck.  I even suggested that if he needed entertainment while he ate that he might try to read something.  

He said, “I can’t read while I eat, MOM!  I am blind and I have a broken arm.  How am I supposed to eat and hold a book right next to my face, MOM?”

I said, “Look, I just offered an alternate entertainment solution to you.  If you don’t like my suggestion, don’t do it.  Quit getting upset about it.  It is stupid to keep this conversation going.”

Then, he turned everything around and got mad at me for using the word "stupid".  He said he wasn’t allowed to tell US that what we are saying is stupid, so why should I be able to tell him that what he was saying was stupid?  I replied that I hadn’t said that what he was saying was stupid, I said that it was stupid to keep this conversation going.  But, that if I did say that something he was doing WAS stupid, I had every right to do that because I am the parent and he is the kid.

Then he left my room, went into the bathroom, and supposedly called someone to ask them to take him to the Insta-Care because wasn’t going anywhere with me after I said he was stupid and called him a kid. 

At least, without him standing there in my room, I was able to get out of bed, grab my robe, and go find my husband.    

Of course, that was a mistake.  As soon as my son heard me talking to my husband about what he had somehow missed hearing, he charged into the office with us and the tirade started all over again.  It felt like everything was spinning out of control to the point that I didn’t know what we were even fighting about anymore. 

How does agreeing to take him to the doctor turn into a blow-up?

We weren’t even begging to take him to the doctor, but he made sure to tell us that now, he wouldn’t go with us under any circumstances.  We told him that since he wasn’t 18 yet, the doctor would need our consent for treatment.  That made him even angrier because we were calling him a "kid" again.  He said he was just going to get out of our lives because we were f-ing idiots and that he would just suffer with his broken arm since we obviously didn’t care about it anyway.

We suggested one more time that he calm down enough to think about what he was doing because he probably really needed to get his arm x-rayed.

By then, I had taken all that I could take that morning and I went up to the bathroom and turned on the fan so that I couldn’t hear anything going on downstairs. 

I could tell that the arguing had picked up again, but I made myself stay upstairs.  It went on and on and I wondered what else they were arguing about when suddenly, my husband was outside the door asking me for the insurance card.

While I was getting the card out of my wallet, my husband seemed to be putting an end to any more discussion by saying, “There are only three things that I want to ask of you.  Get a job.  Don’t use drugs.  And be nice.  Do those three things and there should be no more reason to have blow-ups like the one this morning.”

Our son replied, “Well, there are only two things I ask of you and you can’t manage to do yours, so leave me the hell alone and don’t talk to me.”

I wonder what the two things that we can't manage are?    

I guess they are to leave him alone.

And don’t talk to him.

Like it would be that easy.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

He's Back!

The day after Easter, he went to the skate park, but then called to see if he could stay at home again that night.  I asked him if he really had a place to stay or not, but he just lied and said that he hadn’t been able to get in touch with Alex, so he didn’t want to walk all the way to his house if he wasn’t back yet.  I thought he had probably done something to lose the opportunity to stay there, but he wasn’t admitting anything. 

After a few days of this, I felt like we were being used and manipulated again and thought we should tell him that our house didn’t have a revolving door and that he either lived here and obeyed ALL of the rules or he didn’t.  He wasn't going to be allowed to just keep coming and going at his pleasure. 

He responded with the statement that he was “thinking about coming back home.”

I asked him why he wasn’t staying at Alex’s anymore and he answered that he could still stay there if he wanted to, but that Alex’s parents were alcoholics and that it was not a good environment for him to be in if he was going to stay clean.  I think he knew that if he put it that way we would be more likely to give him another chance.   It sounded like a very responsible thing for him to say.  Later he told me that they didn't like how he kept coming and going and told him that he couldn't stay there anymore.  I felt that they probably expected him to start paying rent or contributing to the household in some way, but he wasn't doing that, so he was asked to leave.

Letting him move back in scared me to death.  I was very worried about how we would be able to get along with each other.   I didn't want to live in a house full of daily arguing and contention.

We told him that he could stay here but that we would have to go over the house rules in detail again.  My husband took care of this because I just didn’t feel like I could handle any more battles.  He made sure to point out that our son was not allowed to stay in the house alone and that if we went to the store, or an appointment, or even out of town for the weekend, he had to find somewhere else to go because he wasn’t going to be given a key to the house.  He told him that he had to be nice to us, that he couldn’t just sit around playing computer games all day, that I wasn’t going to be his taxi service, that we weren’t going to give him money, that he had to go to AA meetings, and that he had to find a job.

All of that went over really well with him.

He kept interrupting my husband, which would cause my husband to feel that he needed to repeat himself to make sure that he had been heard.  Our son started yelling at him for saying the same thing over and over again.  My husband told him he was just trying to make sure that he was understood and it kept going back and forth like that until my husband told him that if he didn’t like listening to the rules, he didn’t have to live here. 

My son came upstairs and yelled through the bedroom door telling me what a dick his dad was and wanted me to come out and drive him somewhere because it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to stay here.  I did not comply and eventually,  I heard him downstairs arguing with my husband again.   I felt that I should just stay out of it because sometimes when I get involved, things escalate.  My son kept coming upstairs, demanding that I come out and listen to him, but then wouldn’t get what he wanted from me, and would go back downstairs and start arguing with my husband all over again.

Finally, through the door, I contributed, “If you are going to live here you have got to be willing to listen to us.  You have got to stop arguing.  If you don’t get what you want, or hear the answer that you want, or have a hard time getting something to work out the way you want it to—you can’t freak out!  You just have to accept things the way they are and leave it at that.  You can’t berate us on and on because you aren’t getting your way.  You have to accept the rules and be happy that you can stay here.”

Then, he reverted to, “Well, if you would only do this…….then I wouldn’t have to do that…….”    It always comes down to that.  I have to conform to his expectations and if I don't, it gives him permission to act like a jerk.  

His parting shot was that he was not going to ask me for anything ever again.

Famous last words.

I wanted to make him leave that night because we shouldn’t have to go through this every single day when all we were trying to do was give him a place to stay. Letting him live here didn't mean that we had to give him total control over us and our home.

We felt like we were “damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”

We let him stay at our house and then he freaks out over everything.

We don’t let him stay at our house and then he freaks out over everything.

So, why did we let him stay when it seemed like we were just in another no-win situation? 

Because that night it was raining.  No matter how awful he was acting, we couldn’t send him out into the rain with nowhere to go. 

Even though it was tempting. 

Saved by the rain.


Easter

My husband went out of town for a couple of days before Easter.  We agreed that while he was gone, we would act like we were both out of town so that I would not have to deal with any of our son's drama while he was gone.  I hoped to have some nice, peaceful alone time.  I planned to screen all my calls and just not answer if my son called me.  I felt that I deserved a break, especially since my husband was getting one. 

But, early the next afternoon, the telephone calls started.  I didn’t answer.  Later that evening, I heard from my husband.  He had been out of cell phone range all day and when he finally had a signal again, he found many missed calls from our son.  Then, he called our son back. 

He told my husband that he wanted to know if we were able to go out to dinner for Easter with him.  And then, for some unknown reason, my husband told him that HE was still out of town and wouldn’t be home for at least 4 or 5 hours and that he might be able to get me to go out to dinner with him, if he texted me. 

I had no idea what happened to the plan to let me have some peace and quiet that day and felt that I was being put in the position of having no choice but to go out to dinner with our son.  If I didn’t he would have said, “You never want to do anything with me and all I wanted to do was celebrate Easter with you.”   So, I picked him up at his park, and we went to one of the restaurants that he likes because they serve huge portions of food.  He ate like he was starving to death.  He actually seemed to be trying very hard to be pleasant.  I tried really hard, too even though I was on edge during the entire meal.  I never knew what I would say that would potentially set him off.  I gave him the Easter gifts that I had gotten for him.  He seemed happy to receive them.

But, I still wondered if he there was an alternate agenda to this little Easter dinner together.

As we left the restaurant, I asked him where he wanted me to drop him off, and he replied, “I was kind of wondering if I could spend Easter at your house.  Alex’s family is having their own Easter celebration and I don’t want to intrude on it.”  

I knew there was an agenda.

I should have been happy to have my child back at home for the holiday.  Holidays can be lonely when all of your kids are gone, right?  I was not particularly optimistic about how happy this holiday was going to be, now.  After all, we didn't have a really great track record with happiness lately.  

He was nice to my husband when he got home that night and told him that he had a good dinner with me.  Things were going fairly well.  

On Easter, as we were driving back home after visiting our grandsons so that they could show us what the Easter Bunny brought to them, our son wanted us to stop at a Carl’s Jr. to buy him lunch.  But, I didn’t want to do that.  I had just bought dinner for him the night before.  There was a big ham in the refrigerator just waiting to become our Easter dinner.  Ham was one of his favorite foods, so I thought he should have been excited about having that to eat.   However, I didn’t know that he had already made himself a midnight snack out of the ham the night before and he didn’t think he should have to eat it twice in a row, especially since we were driving right past Carl’s Jr. and how hard could it be for us to stop and buy him some food? 

When we said that we had plenty of food at home and that he was more than welcome to eat anything that he wanted when we got there, he got angry and complained that because we were so cheap, he was going to have to walk all the way to the skate park to bum a couple of dollars off someone, then walk all the way back to Carl’s Jr. to buy himself some lunch, and then walk all the way back to the skate park again.   He wouldn’t let it drop and kept trying to make a big issue out of it.  He probably thought that the more he argued, the more likely he would be to get what he wanted since it would have been easier to just buy him the food than have this become a big deal.  But, we didn't make that decision and the demands didn't stop.  

The Easter blow-up came to a head when I finally yelled at him to just shut up about it.  I said, “You can either eat our food or not, but I don’t want to hear anything else about Carl’s Jr.!  We are not going to buy you lunch today!” 

Then, he told me what I was just in case I had forgotten (calling me one of his favorite names for me).  

When we got home, I went upstairs to my room and thought that it would be better to sit up there all day than to be around my son. 

I listened to the sounds downstairs and heard him cooking food in the kitchen and heard him go into the family room to watch TV with my husband.  I guess he decided that ham twice in a row was better than nothing and better than a 10 mile walk. 

I didn’t understand why he couldn’t be courteous and pleasant and even try to show his appreciation for us letting him stay at our house instead of being demanding, rude, and disrespectful. 

The tension in the house was high every time I ventured downstairs.

So, I spent most of the day in my room, out of the line of fire. 

Having a happy Easter.

Next

Every time we encountered him in the next few weeks, we wondered why we kept trying to help him him.  He was never appreciative of it.   I guess it is just that no matter what has happened in the past, when your child acts like they need your help, you hope that you are doing the right thing and you hope that this time it will all work out. 

One day I picked him up at the park and took him to the orthodontist.  I was afraid to take him alone, so my sister came along.  She was astonished at the way he spoke to me, at his attitude, and at his manipulative tactics.  Even with her there, he was rude and abusive.  But, to me, it was so mild compared to his usual behavior that I was a little bit amused by the whole thing. Apparently, I just need a chaperone every time he is around me.  

My husband and I took him to meet with his Probation Officer concerning the “possession of drug paraphernalia in a park" charges.   The Probation Officer was very upset to see him again.  He told him that he was lucky he was still a juvenile and hoped that he got this all cleared up before he turned 18, or his parents might be visiting him in a few months between glass partitions. 

Our son didn't feel that he should be in this trouble again and informed the P/O that it was stupid that pot was illegal and the only reason he wasn’t still using it every day was because he thought he was going to be drug tested.   The P/O stated that marijuana was still illegal in the United States, period—no matter what some of the other states were doing and that just because you think something shouldn’t be illegal, doesn’t give you the right to break the law anyway.

After we left the courthouse, he ranted for 10 minutes and we couldn't say anything right.  So, when we dropped him off, he left all of the information about getting his GED and going to counseling in my truck.  Apparently, he wasn’t going to take the P/O’s advice about getting started on that so that he would look like he was trying get his life on track when he appeared before the judge a few weeks later.

Two weeks went by without any interactions and then suddenly, there he was on our doorstep with his two backpacks, begging to be able to spend the night at our house. 

I immediately wanted to say, "No, absolutely not.  The last time you stayed here we had a big blow-up and I am sick and tired of that happening every single time we are around you."   

I felt like I was between a rock and hard place.   A huge feeling of dread came over me because if he was actually here asking to stay then he really must need a place.  

But, I didn't want him to be there that night.  I told him that it wasn’t a good time for him to stay because it was my last night babysitting my grandson before his parents picked him up on their way back from their vacation in Hawaii.  He would be going home to Kansas City with them and I wanted to make every minute that I had with him as special as I could.  

Of course, I was promised that everything would be just fine and that it would really help him out to be able to use our computer to apply for some jobs and to check out the online GED program.  He also said he would like to spend time with his nephew and see his sister the next day.   I knew he was just feeding me a line, but how could I turn him away? 

Then, the next morning, he broke his promise.  Right in front of my little grandson, he lost control because his I-Pod was not working.  He was swearing and speaking in a way that was very inappropriate and he wouldn’t stop.  He kept insisting that I tell him how to fix the I-Pod even though I didn’t know anything about what was wrong it.  I said, “This is exactly why I was reluctant to let you be around me and your nephew.  I can’t have you talking like this around him.  You have to stop this now.” 

He replied, “If you weren’t acting like such a b****, I would stop.  All I want from you is to tell me what I am supposed to do if my I-Pod doesn’t start working because I need my I-Pod and I need to get it fixed right now!  If you hadn’t gotten me such a piece of sh** I-Pod, it probably would be working right now.  You should have to get me one that actually works!” 

This irrational line of thinking didn’t seem to have an ending point and since we were driving to the airport at the time, I pulled over and told him to either get out or be quiet for the rest of the drive and that he had 30 seconds to decide what he was going to do.  He refused to get out, but said, “Fine, I won’t talk to you anymore.  You never help me or, do anything for me anyway.”  

My poor grandson was so quiet in the back seat that I knew he must have been bewildered by the scene that he had been witnessing.  I am sure he had never seen anything like that in his 2 years of life.  I was so upset about my son choosing to play this game in front of this sweet little boy, that by the time we got to the airport I wanted to scream.   For the remainder of the drive, I began to sing songs to my grandson to distract him from thinking about what had just happened.  He seemed amused by it and my son, who could not listen to his I-Pod to drown me out, was pretty annoyed by it.    

Needless to say, he took off when we got back to the house without using the computer or spending time with his sister.  He also neglected to take most of his things with him.    

We didn’t see or hear from him again for a few more days.  Then, he called my husband and was very angry that I supposedly hadn’t answered my phone all day and he really needed me to bring him the backpack that he had left at our house because he needed his deodorant, clothes, and food.  I hadn’t heard a word from him for days and suddenly he was mad at me for denying him access to his deodorant.   Sometimes I just had to laugh at the things he chose to complain about.     

It is just incredible that he feels that he has the right to appear and disappear at his leisure and expected me to meet his needs at a moment’s notice, even when I had no idea that he wanted anything. 

My husband drove him to our home so that he could get his backpack.   As soon as he walked in the door he just made himself at home, took a shower, and even made some macaroni and cheese as if he were staying for awhile.  But, right after he ate, he repacked his two backpacks and walked out the door without even saying a word. 

No matter how many times I have had this experience, it is heartbreaking for me to watch him walk up the street with backpacks stuffed full of possessions on his back, not knowing where he was going. 

Not knowing when I would see him again.

Or if he was going to be all right.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Incidents of Insanity

 Day number three (after the suicide threat incident) did not get any better. 

The first thing he did when he got up late that morning was demand to use the computer.  We were holding fast to the rule that he couldn’t use the computer unless he was not smoking pot or using anything else. 

     “I want to play Starcraft.” 

“You can’t play StarCraft until you can produce a clean drug test.”

     “Drug test me, then.”

The drug test showed an error.  I usually don’t flush the urine until after I do the test (just in case I need it), but this time I did.  He refused to give me another urine sample and insisted that he was going to play StarCraft no matter what I said.

     “This is B.S.  I did my part.  It is not my fault that you screwed up the test.”

So I locked the door to the office and he yelled at me and swore at me as if that would make me change my mind. 

Since he couldn’t use the computer, he decided to play his acoustic guitar. 

     “Where are the guitar pics that I left on the table?”

“I don’t know.” 

     “Well, I didn’t move them.  You need to remember where you put them and find them for me.”

“There are two people in the house that don’t know where your guitar pics are and only one of us going to look for them.  And it isn’t me.”

Of course that didn’t go over very well with him.

While being subjected to another one of his rants, I just wanted to go to my room, lock the door, climb into bed, and hide from this insanity.

But, of course I couldn’t do that.  He would have just yelled at me through the door, or punched holes in the walls or door, or threatened to damage something just to get me to give in and do whatever he wanted me to do. 

The next thing I knew, I was being informed that his friend called and told him that the pawn shop payment of $14.00 for his pawned electric guitar was due that day and if he didn’t pay it, the guitar would be put up for sale. 

He wanted me to give him $14.00 right then and there to give to his friend.

As if anything that had gone on that day so far would have made me gladly or willingly give him money.    I said, “I won’t give you $14.00.  But, I will go with you to the pawn shop.  I'll pay to get the guitar back.  Then, I will bring it home, lock it in my room, and keep it until YOU PAY ME BACK the amount of money that I give to the pawn shop.  That way, you won’t lose your guitar if you miss a payment.” 

Instead of being glad that I was willing to do that for him, he freaked out because I wouldn’t give him $14.00.  He went right back to his position that I don’t trust him enough to give him money.  Once again, I was yelled at, berated, and f-bombed. 

This was just pure insanity. 

I sent my husband a text message and asked him to call our son to see if he could reason with him about this because I honestly felt that I just couldn’t take it anymore.  But my husband couldn’t break through the crazy wall that our son had set up for himself on this issue either.   I heard my son say, "There is no way that I will let you pay off my loan.  You'll have my guitar and then you will be sure to find some reason not to give it back to me, even if earn enough money to pay you back and there is no way in hell that I am going to take that chance.  I would rather have the chance of never getting it back from the pawn shop than trust you to give it back to me."  Then, he hung up on his dad and threw his phone at me.

His Dad kept trying to call him back, but of course he couldn’t answer because I had his phone.  I sent a text message to my husband to tell him what had happened and he started trying to call me, but I couldn’t answer because my son was in my face demanding to have an adult conversation with me.

My son had the nerve to say that I needed calm down and change my tone while we talked. 

Seriously?  

He just threw his cell phone at me and I was the one who was being told to calm down?  

I said, “Sorry, but that ship has sailed.  The agitated tone of my voice is the tone you are going to hear based on the last three arguments of the day.  I am so upset and so sick of you treating me the way that you do that there is no way I am not going to sound irritated.”

His response to that was to call me a f-ing c*** again.  

At that point, the only thing that I wanted was to have him out of the house and as far away from me as possible.  I said, “You need to get out of here right now and I don’t want you to come back until your dad gets home.”

He decided that meant that I was kicking him out and resumed yelling and f-bombing me.  He told me that I was a hypocrite for kicking him out because he knew that I would call the cops on him as soon as he left telling them that he ran away even though I was the one who kicked him out.  He wouldn’t listen when I told him that I wasn’t kicking him out, he just absolutely had to leave the house for the rest of the day.

He started packing his backpack and said he was leaving forever and I would never see him again.  But, he wouldn’t shut his mouth the whole time that he was packing, so I locked myself in the office to try to get away from the abuse.  When I heard the front door slam, I looked out the window and saw him walking up the street with his backpack stuffed as full as he could get it. 

I felt as if I had just been beaten down.  

I was so tired and hurt by all of it.    

You would think that after being homeless, he would have been as happy as could be to be able to have a place to stay again and would have tried a lot harder to get along with me. 

But instead he seemed to feel exactly the opposite and just wanted to fight me about everything. 

For the next few days every time my phone rang, or I heard a text alert, left the house, or came back home, I experienced a feeling of terror that it was going to be my son on the phone or that he would be waiting outside the house for me. 

It’s not fair to be afraid of your own child.


Not fair at all.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Suicide

About one week after we had last seen or heard from our son, while at a birthday party for my husband’s 90+ year old grandmother, my cell phone rang.   When I saw who it was, I immediately took the phone to my husband because I was in the middle of organizing the party food and didn’t know what I would be getting into if I answered it.

My husband took the call outside and was gone for a long time.   I had no idea what was going on and didn't find out until later that our son was in one of his end-of-the-world states of mind.  He complained that his life was terrible, that he was tired of living in a park, tired of being hungry, tired of not having anyone who cared about him, and tired of everything going wrong for him because of us.  My husband told him that we loved and cared about him and wished things could be different so that he could live at home, but, he didn’t know what else he could do or say to help.  

Then our son dropped the bomb that he was just calling because he wanted us to know that he was going to buy a bag of dope and kill himself. 

My husband tried to reason with him, talk sense into him, give him some hope, and did everything he could think of to reassure him that we would always love him.  He re-affirmed that we would gladly welcome him home as long as he would promise to be nice, stop smoking pot, and take responsibility for himself.

Apparently, he wasn't hearing what he wanted to hear, so he hung up.

My husband didn’t know what else to do or say.  Could this have been a real suicide threat, or was it just another form of manipulation?  And, if it was manipulation, what did our son really expect to gain from it?  

The party was winding down when my phone rang again.  I answered it this time and my son said, “This might be the last time you talk to me and I just thought you should know that in case you wanted to change your mind.”

I asked, “Change my mind about what?”

He said, “I guess you need to speak with your husband and he will tell you why you are never going to hear from me again.”

I asked my husband what that meant and he whispered to me that our son was threatening to kill himself because he was tired of having nowhere to live but a park.  I asked what I was supposed to change my mind about and my husband said that he had no idea what our son wanted from us because everything he had put out there so far had been rejected.

We spent the rest of the time we were at the party wondering what we were supposed to do now.  He hadn’t really threatened suicide like this before, but we also knew that most of the time people who are going to commit suicide don’t keep calling their parents threatening to do it.  However, if anyone was not going to follow the rules of statistics, it would be our son.  

Neither one of us felt that we should give in and change OUR rules and expectations.  If we were to let him come home to lessen the chances of suicide, we had the feeling that it wouldn't take long for him to get angry and freak out when everything didn’t go his way, especially when we didn’t do exactly what HE wanted US to do.  It was a cycle we were quite familiar with and didn't really want to jump back into. 

As I cleaned up after the party, I found that there was an entire pepperoni pizza left over and thought I would see if he wanted us to bring it to him.  At least it could help to alleviate the hunger factor for the night.  We hoped that it might help his attitude in some way. 

We weren’t sure if that was the right thing to do or not.  This was a new situation for us and we got the feeling that our son was expecting us to say, “Oh, please don’t kill yourself.  Come home and eat and sleep and have your way and do whatever you want to do.”

Instead, we took him a pizza.

We are awesome parents.

He grabbed the pizza from us and told us that it was stupid that we would bring him something to eat but didn’t care enough about him to even let him sleep in our backyard and couldn’t accept him for who he was.  He walked away with the parting shot that he was not going to sleep in the park for one more f-ing night and was going to f-ing end it all and we wouldn’t ever see him again. 

We were pretty worried, but drove home and wondered what was going to happen next.

Of course, within about ten minutes, the phone rang again.

He informed us that he was coming to our house with someone so that he could get his TV and anything else that he could trade for the bag of dope that he needed to kill himself that night.  He said that we HAD to let him come in and get his things and that if we didn’t, we would be sorry. He stated that he would break into our house if he had to because he was going to do whatever it took, including beating the crap out of my husband, to get the money he needed to buy some dope.

He did not come to our house and we didn’t hear anything else from him.   

The silence was just as worrisome as the constant calling.

It might seem like we didn’t handle this situation correctly.  But, honestly, no one can understand what it felt like that night.  We didn’t know what to do.  We didn’t know what to say.  We plead, we expressed our love, we attempted to reach an understanding, and we tried to reason with him.  Nothing made a difference.

This could have been a bi-polar episode, or it could just have been a grander scale of his usual disconnected thinking.  But, what if he was serious and what would we do if he carried out his suicide threat and all we did to stop him was take him a pizza?

It seemed like there was only one thing left to try.  We hoped that we were doing something that would help our son get the the help that he obviously needed.  We called the police dispatcher’s number and told them that our son was threatening suicide and explained that he hadn’t been living at home because he didn’t like living under our rules.  We didn’t know what this phone call would accomplish, but hoped something would come out of it that would save our son that night.

After the officer found him, we received a call back from the dispatcher telling us that we needed to go to the park.   When we got there, the officer said that WE had to take our son the emergency room for a psych evaluation based on the suicide threats.  We had anticipated a trip to the hospital, but we didn’t think we would have to drive him there ourselves.  We were positive that was not a good idea, but the officer said that he didn’t have permission to leave his jurisdiction.

However, upon being informed that he was being taken to the hospital, my son became very agitated and started yelling at and f-bombing everyone-- including the police officer.   His outburst quickly landed him in handcuffs and earned him a ride to the hospital in the officer’s K-9 truck.

The officer found a marijuana pipe in our son's pocket when he searched him.  That gave him one more thing to blame us for—being given a ticket for possessing drug paraphernalia in a park.

In my opinion, the positive aspect about being cited for drug paraphernalia again was that he would soon have to appear before a judge and would be ordered to stop using marijuana.  The bad thing was that he might get a stronger sentence since it was his second drug paraphernalia offense.

I thought it would be a relief to have him at the hospital in the care of professionals.  I hoped that someone would realize that our son needed mental health help. 

But, once he arrived at the hospital, our son began to “play the game.”  He b.s.’d his way through all of the questioning, evaluating, and examining.  He claimed that he wasn’t suicidal and that he had just been joking.  

The nurse, doctor, and social worker talked to us, heard our version of what had taken place all afternoon and evening and then concluded that our son was not a danger to himself or anyone else and informed us that they intended to release him. 

We weren’t even at the hospital for very long.  It seemed that no one was interested in doing anything for us or our son.  We even begged them to hold him for 24 hours (which in some states is mandatory when someone threatens suicide) and re-evaluate him after that to determine whether he would benefit from psychiatric intervention. But we were told that there was no basis for it. 

Not only that, but the social worker actually came out to the waiting room and told us that because our son was still 17 years old, according to DCFS, we were required to take him home and if we didn’t, we could be charged with child endangerment.   We explained the situation and what led up to our son losing the privilege of staying in our home and he said, “I suggest that you ride it out for four months until he turns 18, but I guess it is your choice.” 

And that was it.  Once again, it seemed as if mental health help was completely unavailable and we were on our own.  

We didn’t want to take him home, but it sure felt as if we weren’t being given a choice in the matter.  We were quite upset and a little afraid.     

Our son and daughter-in-law met us at our house to provide some support.   They talked to their brother, tried to instill in him some feelings of love and hope and asked him to try to become the person that they knew he could be:  for himself and for his family—especially the nephews who loved and admired him without reservation.  They all cried and hugged and it was comforting to see.

I wished they could have stayed longer because as soon as they left he turned off the humble, broken-hearted act and immediately informed us that he didn’t want to be in our home and was only there because we had called the cops on him AGAIN.  He told us that he was going to do whatever he wanted to do and that we couldn’t do anything about it because he knew that we had been told that we were required to let him stay until he turned 18. 

We reiterated the house rules, specifically that he couldn’t smoke pot, couldn’t have pot on our property, and couldn’t come home smelling like pot or cigarettes and that if he didn’t want to live by those rules, we would kick him out and take our chances with DCFS and the police.

He said, “Don’t worry about it.  All I am going to do is eat and sleep here and YOU don’t ever have to talk to me again.”

We gave up even trying to make a point and just said, “You can sleep on the couch and get yourself something to eat, if you want.”  We locked all of the doors that prevent him from going into the office, the basement, and the garage, then went upstairs and locked ourselves in our bedroom.

The next morning, I must have looked at him in the wrong way because he started right in on me and told me that I was a lying sack of sh**, that he hated me for calling the police on him, and that he wished he could have killed himself last night because he would rather be dead than live here. 

I wanted to say, “Good morning to you, too,” but I didn’t.   

Luckily, after his morning rant, he walked out the door without saying anything else.  He didn’t take any of his belongings with him and I had no idea where he went or if he was coming back.

Later in the afternoon, he sent me a picture of himself with his hair in a pony tail and said, “Look what I can do now!” (which I guessed meant that he was able to put his hair in a pony tail by himself).  Then he texted me and asked me what time his curfew was!

I thought, "If this isn’t a good example of one of his rapid-cycling bi-polar episodes, then I don’t know what is."  All of a sudden he was super happy and acting like life and everything between us was just peachy.  

I did not respond to his message since just a few hours prior to that, I had been told to never talk to him again and called several not-so-nice things.

When he got home that night, he was exuberant and jabbered on and on about how he had gone to Sonic to talk to the manager about getting a job there, and asked if I liked the picture that he sent to me, and wanted to know how my day was, etc.   My husband had never really witnessed one of his manic moods and he was amazed at the 180 degree change from the previous day.

The problem with this manic frame of mind, where our son acts like nothing is wrong, acts like nothing ever happened, and acts like life is just happy, happy, happy, is that it doesn’t last long and is usually followed by a crash.

Then the whole “life sucks, you suck, I hate you and everything about you” cycle begins again.

It began on day number two of “riding it out for four more months.”

He wanted me to give him $5.00 to buy a pizza.

I did not give it to him.

I was yelled at, sworn at, and berated because I didn’t “trust” him enough to give him money.  He claimed that it was my fault that he didn’t get to eat his pizza on Sunday night because I called the f-ing cops on him.  Now, all he wanted was five bucks for an f-ing pizza and I was being a b**** for not giving it to him. 

He said that as soon as he had his court date, he was going to move out again because it sure wasn’t worth it to live here, trying to do what he was supposed to do when his own mother wouldn’t f-ing trust him not to buy drugs with five stupid dollars.

I knew the happy act wouldn't last.  

It had been two days and life was already starting to feel like a living hell. 

Again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Moving to Colorado

One night at 2:30 a.m., my son called and asked if he could sleep on our couch because the place he was going to stay that night did not work out. 

Part of me wanted to tell him, “good luck,” but, another part didn’t want anything to happen to him out on the streets in the middle of the night.  I was afraid that no matter what I did, I was going to make the wrong choice.

I reluctantly went to go get him but let him know that he had to leave the house by 11:00 a.m. 

The next morning, I woke him up at 10:00 a.m. and suggested that he go take a shower and get some breakfast so that he would be ready to leave by 11:00.  He would not get up. 

I was so exasperated.  After getting up at 2:30 in the morning to go pick him up and bring him back to our house, he paid me back by refusing to wake up.   I didn’t know what I was going to do.   The more I tried to get him up, the more stubborn he became. Eventually, he got up, but it was already 11:20, so I left the house 30 minutes later than I had planned.    

I told him that now he would have to walk wherever he was going because I did not have time to drop him off anywhere.  He got so angry at me and said, “You mean you can’t f-ing drive two more minutes out of your way?”

Not, “Okay, mom.  I really appreciate your picking me up in the middle of the night and letting me stay here.  I know I should have gotten up sooner and that now you are late for your appointment.  Don’t worry about it, I can walk.”

Instead, I got yelled at as a thank-you for my mid-night generosity.  

I had no idea what I had set my husband and I up for when I let him spend the night, but that morning was certainly an indication of what was coming.  
    
The next night, he called at 9:00 p.m. and asked if he could just spend one more night here because Spence had gone out of town and he couldn’t stay at his house without him.

We said we would call him back after we had a chance to discuss it.  It seemed probable that there was more to the story than he was telling us and we didn't know if we should let him stay without knowing the truth about what was going on.   

When we didn’t immediately agree, he let us know that if it weren't for our attitudes, he wouldn't have had to move out in the first place and wouldn't be in the position he was in now.  My husband pointed out that we didn’t make him give up his home two months ago, he made that choice all on his own.  Of course that made him mad and he swore and hung up on us.

Unfortunately, he is unrelenting when he wants or needs something, so he called back a few minutes later and tried another manipulation tactic.  He said that he was going to move to Colorado with a friend since he had nowhere to live anymore. At this point, I think he fully expected us to give in and beg him to come home, on his terms, rather than move out of state.  

I recommended that he not move to Colorado on the spur of the moment at 9:30 at night, but wished him luck if that was what he wanted to do.  He sarcastically shot back with, “Well, we aren’t going tonight, I still want you to let me crash on your couch, again.”  I told him that we hadn’t had a chance to decide yet and would call him back in five minutes.  He said that we had 2 ½ minutes.

He sure wasn’t making us want to roll out the red carpet.

But, we were just gluttons for punishment and stupidly thought that at least if we let him stay, we would know he was safe for the night, and that maybe this time he would appreciate it, and it would influence him to reconsider the idea of moving to Colorado.  

We called him back and said that he could spend one night on the couch under the conditions that he had to take a shower before he could even sit on the couch, that he had to wash and dry his smelly--dirty clothes, and that he had to make sure that he spent the next day finding another place to stay.

He rudely shot back with, “Well, I will be in Colorado by tomorrow night, so you will be rid of me just like you have always wanted.” 

I should have added the condition of being nice to us, because he certainly was making sure that we were going to have to walk on eggshells all night in order not to set him off.      

He was at our mercy while we drove him home though, so at the risk of having him jump down our throats, we asked him why he had nowhere to stay anymore and wondered if he got kicked out of Spence’s house.  He said that it wasn’t any of our business.  We said, "We think we have the right to know, since we are bringing you back home."  He finally admitted that everyone got kicked out because Spence was going to have to go to D.T.

My husband suggested that if he couldn’t stay at Spence's anymore, then he should spend some time that night thinking a lot about his future and what he was going to do because the last two months hadn't really gotten him anywhere.  Of course, his reaction to that was to swear at us, tell us that we didn’t need to worry about him anymore because he could take care of himself, and that we should just shut the hell up because we didn’t know what we were talking about. 

We were driving him to our HOME, were going to let him eat our food, wash his clothes, take a shower, and sleep on our couch and this was the attitude that he gave us.  I honestly wanted to just pull over and make him get out.

But, of course, we didn’t--because of the whole glutton for punishment parental thing that we had going on that night.   

I was so tired the next morning.  I had woken up almost every hour during the night, feeling nervous and wondering why I was awake, only to remember that my son was sleeping on my couch downstairs.  Then, I would try to fall back asleep while thinking, “What are we going to do?” 

He didn’t seem to be in a very big hurry to leave the next morning and was acting as if being at home was as normal as ever.   He was just hanging out, finishing his laundry, and even being fairly nice.  

The calm atmosphere led us to dare to approach him with a proposition that might make his life a little easier.  We said, “Look, you don’t have anywhere to live right now and just in case you don't really want to move to Colorado, we thought that if you can agree to follow the rules of the house, you could stay here for awhile.”

We gave him detailed list of rules so that there could be no misunderstanding about what we expected.  
  
No using marijuana or anything like it (spice, etc). No using any drugs of any kind. No drinking.
No smoking cigarettes or anything like it (e-cigs). All of the above paragraph means that you can't do it at our house or anywhere in the world.
Random drug testing, more often than ever, will take place. Positive tests, or even you smelling like pot means that YOU JUST CHOSE to move out.
Curfew is 10:00 and 11:30 on weekends. If you don't come home by that time, the door will be locked. You don't get to have a house key.
You will get a job. You will start paying for your own things like clothes and extracurricular activities.
You will clean up after yourself. The room you reside in will NOT be messy-according to my standards of messiness. You will not eat food in the room you reside in. You will take care of yourself, teeth, and eyes.
You will treat us with respect and you will not swear at us. You will tell us the truth.
If you choose not to follow the rules EXACTLY, you will be choosing to move out.

He started reading them and before he got very far, he tossed them aside and said, “F-you!”  

Even though that was the reaction we should have expected, it was not exactly the reaction we hoped for.    

I handed the sheet of paper back to him and told him to keep reading because he might really want to consider that given his lack of options at this point, this might be the best opportunity for him.  He told me to just stop talking and began to cram the clean clothes back into his bags, all the while calling me a “c***” and a bitch and everything else he could come up with.

That was the last straw.  He obviously wasn’t going to see past his un-founded anger and animosity and there was no way I was going to let him keep slowly packing his things back into his bags while verbally abusing me just because I dared to care about him and wanted to help him, so I facilitated a quicker departure by throwing everything out the door and onto the lawn.  

He got angry and came very close to hitting me, but then said that if I touched one more thing, he was going to hit his dad, instead.  He grabbed a backpack and stormed outside to pick up his belongings.  I threw out everything else and told my husband I hoped he wouldn't get hit.  My husband was so angry about what my son had been saying about us and the names he had called me that he was struggling to keep his cool (but was doing a better job of it than I was).  My son didn't follow through with his threat and simply let loose more of his demeaning profanity.  He parted with saying that he was glad to be moving to Colorado because he was never going to have to see us again.

We locked the door and thought that was the last we were going to see of him for awhile.  

He called the next day.  His initial reason for calling was to get me to do him a favor, but he obviously wasn’t finished with attempting to make his problems, our problems, and seemed to be getting some kind of satisfaction out of letting us know what terrible parents we were.   It was crazy because WE didn't put him in the position that he was in, but he sure was taking out all of his anger, uncertainty, and fear on us.  

His friend supposedly wasn't ready to leave for Colorado yet and he wanted me to pick up some of the things he had taken with him and bring them back to our house because he had too much to carry around.  I said, “I don’t know how to decide what my responsibility to you is.  You threw the chance to come back home in our faces.  And before you left, you were extremely mean and said way too many awful things to me.  None of that makes me want to do anything for you, right now."

His answer to that was, “I told YOU to shut up when I was packing and you wouldn’t.  You should have expected what you got.”

Oh right.  Because in MY OWN house, I should expect to be called every name in the book when I try to talk to my child, give him advice, and bend over backwards offering him a solution to his problems.  I told him that it was not his place to tell me whether I can voice my opinion, or not, and that he definitely didn’t have the right to treat me the way he did whether he liked or disliked what I said.   

But then, for some insane reason, I said, “Just so you know, in spite of your terrible attitude and behavior, I still would be willing to give you a place to stay--if you will do the things that you need to do to get your life back on track.”

He said, “What am I supposed to do to get my life back on track?”

I answered that he had to live by our house rules, get a job, and get prepared for moving out so that he could afford to pay rent.

He replied, “There are no jobs.  I have been applying for months and I can’t get one.  Now, magically, because you said it, I am supposed to be able to find a job.  You are f-ing stupid if you think that I can get a job or that I am going to live there again.  I am going to move to Colorado and maybe I will see you in about 17 years." He followed that with the usual hang-up.

But, he was still in town later that night when he called my husband and asked if he could at least sleep in our backyard.  My husband told him that wasn't a good idea right now and that we were tired of getting yelled at, sworn at, and told how awful we were.  Then in typical fashion, our son began to rage that if we loved him we would allow him to live at home and that the whole reason he was homeless was because we had been brainwashed to think there was something wrong with smoking pot and that he could prove we were wrong about it.   

I know he really must have been feeling desperate about having nowhere to stay, but his arguments weren’t going to change our minds.  We had taken all that we could take in the last two days and his irrational logic was not going to help him achieve his goal this time.  It was very hard, as his parents to say, “Sorry, but we just can’t have you here right now,” especially when our emotions were running the gamut from not wanting anything to do with him to not wanting to lose him.  

We said it, though.

And that was it. 

The drama was over for awhile.

The sadness that we felt was not.