Tuesday, May 24, 2011


All of the middle of the night conflicts began negatively effecting our family life and our marriage.  While our son was in residential treatment, my husband and I were happy that at least we were getting closer together as a couple.  We were proud of ourselves for not letting the stress come between us.  It was a good thing that we had that time to build up our foundation because we were in for a test as soon as our son began living at home again.

The amount of tension going on here every day and night was taking its toll.    Often, we didn’t agree on what we should be doing to solve the problems.  I was trying to compromise and negotiate, while my husband was trying to establish rules and limits that were set in stone.  I felt his disapproval of every single thing that I tried to do to have peace and to avoid a fight.  The disapproval really hurt my feelings.  He would close himself off and feel sorry for himself.  I knew that what I was doing to have less arguments with my son was causing the disagreements with my husband, but I thought I was doing the best that I could.  I was not thinking of myself, I was thinking of the whole family.

My husband started to take everything that my son said and did very personally. It appeared that he almost had situational depression.  He acted like he was tired of all of the conflicts and didn’t seem to be as patient and willing to try to work through things as he was at first.  He said that “he was tired of getting kicked in the teeth and being told that he was stupid and didn’t know anything.”  Sometimes he overreacted to little things that would have been better to just not worry about.

One Sunday, I was taking a nap and for some reason, my husband let the dog in.  She came upstairs and was sleeping in my room.  My son peeked in the door to see what I was doing because he wanted me to do something for him and the dog came bouncing out of the room, happy to see him.  Well, my son thought the dog was supposed to be in there, so he tried to get her to go back in and then my husband started yelling at my son for waking me up.  We both tried to tell him that it was the fact that the dog was in my room that woke me up, but he wouldn’t listen.  Then my son began talking back to my husband since he was getting blamed for something that he didn’t really do.  My husband and son were both mad for the rest of the day.   Nobody talked to anybody.  So much for a pleasant Sunday.

The next day, my husband left for work without saying 5 words to me.  Later on, I asked him if he was going to give up on our son and he said he didn’t know what he was going to do.  I asked him if he was going to give up on me, too, and he said, “I don’t know, maybe.” 

So now, my husband wanted to give up on our son. 

And on me. 

Well, I didn’t want to give up on HIM.  We had made it this far (28 years) and I knew that we could get through this if we both kept working at it.  The fact that he had doubts about sticking with me through the hard times was hurtful.  I felt abandoned and alone in dealing with my son’s struggles.  I think my husband’s feelings were just as torn apart as mine were, except that he wasn’t thinking about how things could get better if we just persevered, he was only thinking about the constant daily tension between all of us and how he wanted to get away from it.

I understood how he felt.  It seemed like nothing was ever going to be normal again.  Day after day we did exactly the same things.  We hadn’t done anything fun or even gone anywhere together alone ever since our son was released from treatment.  We couldn’t leave him alone and since he was so very ready to unleash his feelings on anyone who disagreed with him, we didn’t feel comfortable asking anyone to watch him.  Our son and daughter-in-law had not volunteered to take him off our hands for a few hours.  Our daughter and her husband lived an hour away and they hadn’t offered to watch him either.  I honestly don’t think either of them even thought about it. 

We never knew it would be this hard.  My husband always said that he didn’t care if our son hated his guts for the rest of his life for putting him in rehab and helping him overcome his addiction—he was just doing what was the best thing at the time to help our son.  But, now that it was coming down to the fact that our son REALLY was going to act like he DID hate our guts, it wasn’t as easy for him to accept.

Even when my child makes me feel bad and even when I just want to run away because it is hard--I am not giving up.  No matter how much my son may hurt my feelings.  No matter how many names he may call me.  No matter how hard he makes it.  I am not going to give up on him.  A parent fights for their child and tries to work out everything for as long as it takes, because the child is worth it.  Especially when they are only 14 years old.   

I told my husband some of these feelings about not giving up on your kid and how it hurt to have him want to walk out on me, on the phone that day. 

It must have made some kind of impact on him because I thought he wasn’t coming to Family Group Therapy that night.  He said he just needed some time alone.  I was totally surprised when he came.  It was a good thing that he did because that night there was a Rose Ceremony.  A Rose Ceremony is held after one of the kids from the program makes it one year clean and sober.  They are given a rose by their therapist and then they briefly tell their story.  Rose Ceremonies are meant to help all of the other kids who are going through the program hear how it is to be successful and sober in the real world.  If the parents wish to tell how they feel about that year of sobriety, then they have the chance, too. 

These rituals not only help the kids in treatment, but they help their parents have hope, too.  That night, the comments of the parents had a big impact on my husband.  Something that was said initiated a big change in his attitude and outlook.
I think he was given hope.  If that particular kid could make it under the circumstances that he started with, then there was hope for our son, too.  Hearing how the parents, themselves, got through that year makes success seem possible. 

The next night at our individual family therapy, the therapist asked my husband how he was feeling now and he told her that he began to feel a lot better after the Rose Ceremony.  He said he didn’t really want to give up on our son or leave us both, he was just feeling frustrated with everything that was going on in his life at the time relating to our son’s situation, our family, work, and finances.

He felt good and was going to make an effort to try harder to make things work out.

Even though he acted like he had changed, it was hard for me to just feel like everything was going to be okay again. 

It is still up and down. 

I like the up times.

I dread the down times.

That is why I try so hard to keep the peace.

And that is why my husband disapproves of some of the things I do.

Then the whole cycle starts over again.

It is perpetual.

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