For all my attempts at trying to stay focused and positive and finding a direction to achieve recovery for my son and us as a family, I always seem to have something remind me that it may not be possible. Perhaps it is not a message that it is impossible, perhaps the message is, it will be longer and harder than you would like, but my vulnerable emotional state is perceiving it as impossible.
After weeks, or possibly longer, of not eating dinner around the table, all together, as a family, last night we did. However, when my son appeared at the table obviously high and wanting to engage in idle chit chat (bringing more attention to his altered state because it has not been part of his "natural" personality for a long time to engage in pleasantries) it achieved no positive outcomes.
First of all I got on edge and the more I reminded myself not to comment on his obvious altered state, the more edgy I got, the more inquisitive my son got to my apparent annoyance, the more uncomfortable my older daughter became etc. So my daughter became very quiet, kept looking at me in such a way to convey her anxiety to me, and ate quickly. She was delighted when I voluntarily excused her from the table. My youngest daughter did not seem to mind too too much since she was in meat heaven, as we have been nearly meat free for about two months because of finances, and we have been able to eat better on occasion recently. My son could not sit in silence and so I explained to him that we need to be making baby steps. The mere fact that he is sitting with us at the table is a step that we must appreciate and expecting us to all partake in dinner conversation might just be asking a bit too much too soon. Realising that his intoxicated ramblings would not be reciprocated he started to express himself with the more customary disapproving comments. He started off by giving me a backhanded compliment regarding my cooking, "The rice is delicious. Just the right amount of seasoning. Now if you could only be bothered to measure the amount of salt you add, your rice would be this delicious each and every time instead of hit and miss". Now this upset my older daughter because she appreciates good food and my cooking. I say this in the most non conceited way that I am a rather good cook, and never have I heard otherwise. The thing that annoys me even more about my son's comments, is not that I get offended that I think he is insulting my cooking, it is the fact that many of his comments come across as male chauvinistic comments. Such comments often bring to mind characters like Ralph Kramden (The Honeymooners), Fred Flinston (The Flinstons), or Homer Simpson (The Simpsons). My son will often tell me it is "my job" to do menial chores or to serve him because that is what women do. Last night I told him I do not appreciate his chauvinistic attitude and instead he can show me his appreciation for the nice meal I prepared by cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. That ensued more insulting comments that that is not a man's job and you never see men doing that!
Forgive for going off on a tangent again but this attitude really strikes a nerve with me, and with him for that matter. As much as I want to teach my son to be respectful of women and not to play into gender stereotypes, he has been influenced by others. Though his father never bellowed at me, "Woman where is my dinner", there were many other less dramatic ways in which his attitudes and his control over me has left an impression. Since there were no other role models in his life to counteract that impression and no matter how advance we become as a society, there are still apparent gender stereotypes in our culture, he thinks his way of thinking is the accepted one from society.
Besides the fact that I want my son to grow into what I define as a good man (caring, supportive, protective, providing, compassionate, understanding, non judgemental, hard working, loving) and to eradicate such stereotypes from his way of thinking, I also feel uncomfortable about the inappropriateness of a son who is acting more like a controlling, insulting, jerk of a husband.
So, it began with comments about my cooking. His sister was then excused and this led to comments about my preferential treatment and the differences I make between my children. Somehow we started talking about contributions we all make or do not make to the family and hence employment was brought up. My son kindly shared with my that it is not due to the extreme stress and dysfunction and dependency on me that I have found it impossible to go back to work, it is because I am unemployable and that no one would want to hire me. I tried to retaliate and then we talked about what type of future opportunities will he have if he continues living as he is living. He was adamant that his prospects will always be better than mine and since so many of my buttons were being pushed I reminded him of some of his past school mates and how they have part time jobs, are travelling, have university acceptances etc. Obviously, our family meal was not going too well!
What did I say when I said my son actual joined us for dinner? Oh yes, he was "high", "intoxicated", "altered" etc, so why didn't I just keep telling myself that and intellectualise and rationalise his comments and deflect them rather than play into them? Well, there you go! For all the wonderful, positive, optimistic intentions in the world we are all human and when we are so personally involved and the buttons are being pushed it is so easy to get pulled into a silly pointless argument.
It ended with all his buttons being pushed as well and then retaliating as he always does that I am a c*** and that I never tell any of the "professionals" how I insult him and make him feel horrible about himself. I know that that is not really what happened, but I also know that reminding him that his friends have all moved on with their lives and have plans for the future, where he does not, ultimately hurts him and insults him. Was that my intention? Not really. However, all of us will push back when we are being pushed, it does not matter what the nature of our relationship is. He was pushing my buttons, so I eventually pushed his back.
Fortunately for my son, much of these incidences are while he is on a substance or coming down from that substance and he will quickly "forget" or his mood will quickly change. Of course it is not really forgotten, I believe it has left it's negative mark. Things did not escalate too bad last night and he quickly "forgot", to the point of him asking, "why were you mad at me tonight?".
Today is another day, and though it is now 1:00 pm my son is till fast asleep and will probably remain asleep for a few more hours. I started my day hours ago and top of my "to do" list was phone the GP to try to book an appointment with him for my son and his "case worker" (though he technically is not, he is just one of the few in his profession, like any profession, who truly wants to help and make a difference). That was the plan of action today to try to get my son to the Dr, but unfortunately my son's GP is off ill! Next week then!
I have to say, that since this journey began several years ago, we have encountered some incompetent professionals as well as some who were just downright unpleasant, but I think we have (I know I have) met some wonderful people along the way.
When I met my now ex husband, him and his friends nicknamed me "Susie Sunshine" because I was so positive and optimistic and thought there was good in the world. My husband on the other hand, had two nick names, "Moody Mick" as well as "Bitter & Twisted" which needs no explanation why someone would have such nicknames! Over the years my ex husband's view on the world and people darkened even more. Eventually his gloom overshadowed my sunshine and it gradually eclipsed away. I sometimes get glimmers of that sunshine and through the years the rays are trying to become stronger. I want to possess the hope, warmth and light that sunshine brings to the world and leave behind the doom and gloom and despair that the dark clouds bring. Last night was just a small passing cloud over my family and sunshine, one day, will prevail! Kind of corny...but I am kind of corny sometimes!