I think his sponsor told him that he needed to apologize because he gave me a hug and told me that he was sorry when I gave him the letter. At least he didn’t seem to be in a worse mood after he read it. He admires his sponsor and thinks of him as his higher power (AA Step 2), and I appreciate all of the good things that come from that. I especially like the fact that his sponsor asks him every day, “What did you do nice for your mom?” At least it gets him thinking that he should be nice.
My husband told him that he had to do a bunch of chores for all of the swearing that he had done. Until he did the chores, he wouldn’t get to play the X-box. He refused to do the chores on the basis that he was “provoked”. So, the activity of the day was watching TV, until we dragged him to my grandson’s first birthday party. He chose not interact with anyone and repeatedly asked how long we had to stay. This should have been one of the happiest days of the year, and my son just couldn’t stop trying to drag us down. This did not make me very happy with him.
He spent the entire weekend without the X-box and became more and more withdrawn, acting like there was nothing to do in the world.
On Monday, when he came home from Day Treatment, he asked if we had anything planned to do. I couldn’t resist and said, “No, you quit the Monday and Thursday night activities, and we don’t have anything else planned to do. Do you want to change your mind?”
He said, “No, Tae Kwon Do is stupid. The only thing I have in my life is Day Treatment and coming home to nothing.” I told him that he could hang out with me and we could talk while I made dinner, but he just went to his room to lay down on his bed.
Later, I asked him if he had any other activities in mind that he would like to be a part of and naturally he said no. I told him that if he wanted to start guitar lessons or anything else, he should let me know. He took that opportunity to inform me that now he hates playing the guitar too.
At dinner, my husband suggested several other activities that my son could get involved in from football to swimming. All of those ideas were shot down. We tried valiantly to make conversation, tell jokes, and laugh about things to draw him out, but we got no response or reaction.
After dinner, I asked him if he wanted to watch a TV show with me, but he began to insist that I give him his Ambien so that he could go to sleep (at 7:00 p.m.)! I told him that he couldn’t have it until bedtime.
“For me, it is bedtime,” he whined as if I would fall for that.
I replied, “Sorry, Ambien is not an antidote for boredom.” Then, I walked away as he continued trying to convince me that he needed his sleeping pill right then. I suggested that he work on his therapeutic assignments and he said that there was no point.
He wanted us to feel sorry for him, give in on the chore penalty, and let him play the X-box again. Then, all would be well with him. I kept trying to think of something to do to get him to do the chores and get it over with just to get rid of the cloud of gloom that was hanging over all of us.
Any other time, sooner-- rather than later--he would want to get his X-box back. He would have radically accepted that he had chores to do and would get them done. But, he was being very stubborn this time. I don’t know if it was to try to prove something or if he couldn’t figure out how to pull himself back out of the pity party that he had gotten himself into.
The therapist tried to help us get through this current conflict on Wednesday night at Family Therapy. As we left the building, I said, “When you were talking about the chores for swearing penalty, you said that you wanted to be able to pick the 10 chores, instead of doing the ones that Dad wrote down. Would you like to talk about the chores you would be willing to do?”
He said, “I’m not going to do any chores.”
So much for Family Therapy.
I was so frustrated that we hadn’t gotten any results in family therapy.
On the drive home, I told him that I had apologized for how things went last week and had tried to make things better. I asked him why it was so hard for him to accept and work on improving the situation, too. He said that he is just not like that anymore. Once again, he pointed out that he was done trying and had just quit.
I said that I just didn’t understand his attitude because even though we had a big blow-up last week, we really have had a lot fewer conflicts like that lately. I pointed out that we learn something from the ones that we DO have which can help us to avoid them in the future.
But, he insisted that nothing has gotten better over the last few months and that it wasn’t going to get better.
I changed the subject and asked him how much homework he had. He said he didn’t know. I asked him if he wanted to work on his Leisure Packet so that he could move to Phase 2 soon.
He said that he didn’t want to be a Phase 2 anymore. I asked him why and he said that having Phase 2 friend privileges would mean that he could either skateboard with friends or play the X-box with a friend. He didn’t want to skateboard anymore and he played the X-box all the time, anyway, so why bother becoming a Phase 2? He felt that these were the only two things that his friends would want to do, so why bother doing the work just for that?
I wondered if he was using the current situation to have an excuse not to progress because he was afraid to hang out with his friends again? Was he as worried as I was about what would happen when he got more freedom? Was that why he didn’t have any motivation? Was that why he kept picking fights with me and my husband, because he knew that every family conflict would hold him back in the program?
Or did he just have a compulsion to make sure that we knew that we had ruined his life and that everything was as bad as it could get because of what we did?
That night he wouldn’t eat dinner. The therapist had brought up the fact that he was still losing weight. He said that since everyone thinks that he doesn’t eat, he might as well not eat. I couldn’t convince him that every time the issue of his weight gets brought up, it wasn’t to pick on him, it was out of everyone’s concern for him to help him understand the importance of eating good food and gaining some weight. Of course, hearing that people cared about him and his health did nothing to break the ice.
His tone and his attitude was so insolent and rude that I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Do you hate your Dad and I that much?”
He knew how to cut me to the core when he answered, “I’m getting there.”
I don’t know how I possibly could have expected him to say “No, I love you guys.” I am a crazy glutton for punishment, that’s for sure. I had to try very hard not to show that the tears were right at the surface.
No matter what we did...
No matter how hard we tried...
No matter how much we love him and care about him...
No matter how we tried to not have contention and blow-ups...
He didn’t want to get over us putting him in rehab.
He didn’t want to leave the arguments of the past couple of years in the past.
He didn’t want to accept any responsibility for the course his life was taking right now.
He just wanted to blame us for everything.
He wanted to justify his drug use by making it seem like we drove him to it.
Inside I was screaming!
"I am sorry that you don’t realize how much I want things to get better between us!"
"I am sorry that I yell!" (At least this time I was screaming in my head, not out loud!)
"I am sorry that after I tried every single thing I could think of to do calmly, helpfully, and nicely in the face of defiance and stubbornness—that I resorted to yelling!"
I wish I could have figured out how not to do that.
I read parenting books.
I read books on how to deal with Oppositional Defiant kids.
I took classes on dealing with O.D.D.
I brainstormed with my husband all the time about how to not have things turn into blow-ups.
We both tried.
But, our son didn’t try.
He just started drinking, smoking, and using drugs.
He didn’t even think he should accept that the only person who made him start using drugs was himself.
He justified everything with the fact that we argued a lot.
We wanted to forgive him for the things that he did.
We wanted to move on from there and work on improving our relationship.
But, he didn’t want to.
He wanted to hate us for everything we had ever said or done in the past 14 years.
Then, out of the blue that night, he came to me with a list of ten easy, yet stupid, chores to do. They took him about 10 minutes--total--to finish. It was the lamest effort at work in history. At this point, I didn’t even care. At least he was doing something!
He got the X-box back.
You would have thought that would make him happy, but he just couldn’t resist pushing the envelope. He tried to set it up in his bedroom instead of the family room! He insisted that it would be so much for comfortable to lie on his bed to play it. Explaining that nothing had changed in the last few days about where the X-box could be used was maddening! He knew that we didn’t want him to isolate himself in his room with the X-box and that it had been a rule ever since he started Day Treatment that the X-box would be played in the family room, and yet he thought he could just set it up wherever he wanted to.
My husband and I didn’t argue with him, though. We just stated the facts and then shut our mouths. He finally realized that he wasn’t getting any results from this course of action and gave up.
But, he seemed to feel that he had to get in one last word just in case we would change our minds.
He said, “I can’t believe that I AM THE ONE THAT HAD TO GO TO REHAB and I can’t even be comfortable NOW when I play the X-box.”
That didn’t help his case.
We laughed for the first time in days at the absurdity of that statement.
He played the X-box for one hour while sitting in our big comfy chair that he moved out of the corner of the family room right in front of the TV.
After that hour, his tone of voice and attitude were happier than I had seen in days.
All because of the X-box.
The next morning, he claimed to be sick. He may have not felt well, but it sure seemed like he was using that as an excuse to stay home and play the X-box all day.
He showed his symptoms of stomach sickness, combined with coughing in as many ways as he could right up until my husband left for work. Then he went back to sleep for several hours. When he woke up, he was not coughing and didn’t show any signs of stomachache anymore.
I told him that now I could take him to Day Treatment, but he was sure that he still needed to take it easy.
He began to get himself all set up and ready to relax while playing the X-box.
But, I had sent every single X-box controller to work with my husband.
It never crossed his mind that I would make sure that he wasn’t able to just fake sick in order to stay home and play games all day.
I laughed to myself.
He was not laughing.
Far from it.