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How much wrong have I done to my son?

Old 10-19-2012, 07:12 AM
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How much wrong have I done to my son?

I have been reading a lot of books on shame, and also a book on NPD(called "Why is it all About You?") and they all talk about childhoods and how personality disorders develop, etc. Anyway, I look at my son(G) who will be 14 in a few weeks and I wonder; just how much wrong have I done to him?

I remember when G was 2. All 3 of us were out hiking and G was crying about being tired. My AH flipped out on him and went berserk on the mountain trail. I just sat there dumbfounded and I did nothing. I was so in shock that I didn't protect my kid. I drove to our friends home later that day and cried and asked them for advice. I was so young and naive and had no idea what I was dealing with because he would pull this crap every so often. For 3 days after that event my AH lived in his office, depressed and sleeping on the futon, he only came out to go to the bathroom and grab a small bite to eat. I finally went to my AH one night dressed in a sexy outfit and convinced him to sleep with me, and then he was back to normal.

Other times when AH would get weird or depressed, I would write long letters about how wonderful he was, about the things I loved about him, and how we needed him as a family, etc. These actions usually snapped him out of his depressions. I became the emotional healer, so to speak, in our relationship. He would get really down, I would get tired of walking around on eggshells, and I would make an effort to get him to feel better by being his emotional support. Over the years of doing this, though, I put my own self on a shelf and forgot who I was. I am still hoping to find myself soon. My AH's behaviors when G was little is the main reason we only have 1 child. I've never told AH this. I blamed the only child thing on my horrid childbirth experience and how I almost died that day. Yet, in reality, I didn't want to bring another child into a home with his crazy making behavior.

Anyway, what has happened over time is that my son and I have a very close relationship. Mostly because my AH has removed himself from our lives in various ways. My AH won't go visit my mom with us because he is highly allergic to her farm but he won't go visit his family with us either, because he hates his own family. He won't go to Denver with us (I have a sister and 2 cousins there) because he despises my brother in law and I usually stay with my sister. He didn't come to my cousin's wedding because of this particular situation so all the pictures are of me and our son, he's just missing and that's sad. I can overlook my jackass brother in law(he's currently not living with my sister), but my AH hates him with a passion. He also won't go to church with us or to our neighborhood Bible study, he makes fun of Christians in various ways but claims to be very connected to God. He hates church(organized religion, in general) and hates sappy Christian men, as he calls them, because they aren't MAN enough. If a man gets teary eyed reading a Bible verse, then there must be something wrong with him. He must be weak and AH hates weakness in people. He has made it very clear that he hates to see people show weakness, even himself.

AH won't go to our son's tennis tournaments because he doesn't want to deal with difficult parents. He also seems to have a hard time handling our son's weird behaviors and tics on court. AH will sit there and fume and make comments and get pissy and then he freaks out about parents who are acting improperly, etc. So, he has chosen, for the past 3 years, to miss all of our son's tennis tournaments. G won both his divisions this past weekend in singles and in doubles and AH wasn't there to see it.

So, basically, G and I take vacations alone. We travel to tournaments alone. I am the parent who takes him to tennis practice, takes him to his classes, helps him organize his schedule, takes him hiking, takes him to the gym, we go on walks together, bike riding, etc. My AH will take G to the tennis courts and they play about once a week or so together and they also play ping pong in the house every day. Some days they do lunch together when they go to the courts. I want to make it clear that AH does spend a small amount of time with G, but for the most part I am the primary parent. We also have had a few trips and vacations as a family and had a wonderful time. Remember that no one is BAD all the time so there's been lots of good sprinkled in through all these events and behaviors.

What I am worried about is the unhealthiness of this dynamic. I know that my AH has made comments about being lonely, but I feel that he brought it on himself by refusing to participate in our lives. I'd make plans to go back east asking whether he wanted to come along, tell him I'm going to visit YOUR family, he'd tell me I'm crazy for bothering, and he'd stay here in AZ. Same with the tournaments, I've never excluded him or asked him to stay home. It's all been his choice, but he complains about loneliness. UGH! I can't turn back time but at 14, can I really make a difference and teach G how to become emotionally healthy as an adult or has so much damage been done already that there's no hope?

Sorry for the length of this. My mind is going a mile a minute. I know I can't undo the past. I also know that if I separate from AH things will be almost the same, except with one of us living elsewhere. Actually, G might see AH more if we separate. Not sure if that's a good thing at this point, either. Honestly, I guess I just had to get my thoughts out. If you guys read all this, I totally appreciate it!!!! MANY THANKS TO SR and EVERYONE HERE!!!
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:39 AM
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Oh Liz,
I'm not sure that I have much wisdom or advice on this topic at the moment. However, I can completely relate to what you are saying and what you are concerned about. Aside from the fact that your AH is able to financially support his family (rather than put them in financial hell), it sounds like we married the same man!
Your story about the hike really hit home. There have been times when I have just frozen instead of defending my boy (almost always my oldest). Then I would do all I could to make sulking dad feel better, just like you did. They should have been chastized but instead we stroke their ego.

Your son knows that you are there for him. He sees how much you love him and how much you do for him. Just like you want to see him happy and healthy, I'd be willing to bet that he wants to see the same for you. Be the example you think he needs.

Liz, forgive me if I'm overstepping, but I think you need to give yourself a break. As I read your posts I get the sense that you are in a perpetual state of motion trying to fix, correct, undo, control, manage and mend all of the problems that seem to be the direct result of this awful family disease. It's just so much to handle. It's life-sucking.
Stop future tripping. Take a deep breath. Be sweet and gentle to yourself and to your boy. Let your guard down when AH goes to Costa Rica. Let these worries that you're not doing enough go - at least for a while.
I'm sending lots of hugs and support your way,
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Old 10-19-2012, 07:58 AM
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Thanks, MamaKit, actually G and I are taking a mini vacation tonight. I'm driving up north and we're going to stay in Sedona and go hiking. G is into photography so he's hoping the leaves are changing on the trees in the canyons. We're planning on hiking along the creek later today and then I'm planning a hike up to a mesa tomorrow for some panoramic shots. Then, G is having 2 friends sleep over on Saturday night.

I am taking some time to myself, but it's so hard to NOT try to figure it all out. I am definitely enjoying the peace of our home this week, I keep hoping that AH would stay a few extra days in Costa Rica, LoL!
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:05 AM
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You will never know until your son becomes of adult age.

Although I was not home schooled or driven anywhere by my parents, being with adults all the time was not healthy for me. Added to that, both parents were alcoholics as were their spouses. I was forced to be emeshed in their issues, they only time I escaped from the toxic enviorment was when I was in school, I then, had my own life and was allowed to think for myself, navigate myself through classes and deal with peer issues. Due to your home schooling him, he is shielded from that interaction, from that freedom.

He is 14, might be time to consider cutting the apron strings and let go of a little of that control
that you so embrace. He soon will be of adult age, are you preparing him for that transition?

Just my thoughts, if I am out of line, I apologize in advance.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by dollydo View Post
You will never know until your son becomes of adult age.

Although I was not home schooled or driven anywhere by my parents, being with adults all the time was not healthy for me. Added to that, both parents were alcoholics as were their spouses. I was forced to be emeshed in their issues, they only time I escaped from the toxic enviorment was when I was in school, I then, had my own life and was allowed to think for myself, navigate myself through classes and deal with peer issues. Due to your home schooling him, he is shielded from that interaction, from that freedom.

He is 14, might be time to consider cutting the apron strings and let go of a little of that control
that you so embrace. He soon will be of adult age, are you preparing him for that transition?

Just my thoughts, if I am out of line, I apologize in advance.
No worries. He takes 3 classes at a co-op and hangs out on campus with friends between classes, etc. He also spends weekends at tournaments without my direct supervision( I leave him at tournaments and go back when his matches come around but he's there all day with his friends just talking and messing around). He has had to deal with peer pressure even though he's homeschooled. He was bullied last year by 2 tennis kids who called him gay, made fun of him, and told him he was a virgin(among other things), and they put it on Facebook. He was bullied in his co-op class last year. A boy there pulled his pants down while walking through the halls and stole his Ipod and changed his passcode, again this kid did more but these stick out in my mind. UGH, it's amazing what kids will do these days!

Believe me, he has been exposed to plenty of the unpleasantries of the teen world, even without being in a public school! I saw some of the older boys(around 16) at a tournament a few weeks ago looking at porn on their phones!

I have been working with his neuropsychiatrist to figure out which schools in our area have programs that will help G with his birth related brain injury. There are a few charter schools I'm looking at for next year, or possibly for the year after depending on how much progress he makes. And, a lot of it depends on what he wants to do with the tennis and/or what we can afford as a family.

Many of the tennis kids(probably 50%) are homeschooled when they get to this level of competition. The tournaments run through Mondays and most schools only allow kids to miss a certain amount of days each year. The kids at super high levels go to academies in FL, CA, TX, DC, etc where they do tennis from 8-10:30 AM, school from 10:30 to 3, then tennis again, then homework around 7 PM or so. This is a normal schedule for many of G's friends. We don't go to an academy because of the cost, but the homeschooling allows us to be able to school on the road(some courses are online), etc.

He has been begging me to put him in an academy in FL, but it's very cost prohibitive for us. It's gotten to the point where he looks up houses in FL and searches for jobs for us, LOL! Sometimes I wish he'd pick another sport! But, it's his passion and he's pretty good at it. I think tennis has taught him to stand up for himself more, to make decisions faster, to think creatively, etc. Tennis is a thinking sport as well as physical and when the kids are out there, it's one on one. No coaching is allowed. They have to coach themselves and learn positive self-talk. When G comes off court he will tell me all the things he said to himself during a match and it's encouraging to see how far he's come. He recognizes his errors, pumps himself up mentally, tries to overcome any weaknesses he has that day by verbally encouraging himself. Tennis a tough sport and requires a HUGE amount of mental control and I think the sport has definitely given G that much. He's come a long way in the 3 years that he's been competing.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:36 AM
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I truly believe that you cannot "teach" children emotional health, other than by example. Parents are the primary role models and I know I learned much more from what my parents DID than what they SAID.

My children were raised in a chaotic, alcoholic/codependent family until the ages of 9 and 13. I have no doubt that those early childhood experiences affected them. And not in a good way. But, since then, I have literally turned my life around. I set a healthy example for them in the way I lead my life. The past cannot be undone, but the future is wide open.

L
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:41 AM
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"He has been begging me to put him in an academy in FL."

There is a very well known one right around the corner from me in Bradenton, Fl. Many parents and their families (mothers stay, husbands visit) stay in their RV's, and rent a space in a local RV park, that offer great low yearly rates. I know, as I use to work in one of those local parks.
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Old 10-19-2012, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by lizatola View Post
I think tennis has taught him to stand up for himself more, to make decisions faster, to think creatively, etc. Tennis is a thinking sport as well as physical and when the kids are out there, it's one on one. No coaching is allowed. They have to coach themselves and learn positive self-talk. When G comes off court he will tell me all the things he said to himself during a match and it's encouraging to see how far he's come. He recognizes his errors, pumps himself up mentally, tries to overcome any weaknesses he has that day by verbally encouraging himself. Tennis a tough sport and requires a HUGE amount of mental control and I think the sport has definitely given G that much. He's come a long way in the 3 years that he's been competing.
I would let this over-ride all that you posted above. Obviously he is excelling, even if it is on his own terms.

The Mom-guilt is normal, but don't let it overtake rationale. His father may not have been perfect or even close to, but what he lacked, you made up for.

I beat myself up for a solid year over my choices and how they lead to some real lousy behavior my kids had to witness. But, it happened. Its in the past. I corrected the situation to make it one that is more healthy and conducive to raising teenagers, and that was the best I could do. Forgiving myself for my imperfections was probably the best thing I've done for myself. Ever. Life is so much nicer nowadays. That guilt was heavy to carry around day after day.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by dollydo View Post
"He has been begging me to put him in an academy in FL."

There is a very well known one right around the corner from me in Bradenton, Fl. Many parents and their families (mothers stay, husbands visit) stay in their RV's, and rent a space in a local RV park, that offer great low yearly rates. I know, as I use to work in one of those local parks.
Yes, Bolliterri is in Bradenton. He wants to do East Coast of FL. There are actually more academies there along with the USTA facility in Boca. His old coach is located in Delray, that's where we were this summer and that 's really where he wants to train. I think the 4 PM, 20 minute runs on the beach were torture but he thrived on that stuff, LOL. I have family in Boynton and my aunt is near Jacksonville so ther idea of going to FL is very appealing to me so I can be closer to family. Of course, I'd miss my mountains here!!
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:59 AM
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My dad was very harsh with me, in fact I can remember specifically a hiking trip just like the one you described, where I was very little and couldn't keep up, and received nothing but scorn from him for it. The difference in my situation, though, was that my mom not only never stood up for me, but would often team up with him. For that I hated my mom even more so than my dad, I think. The reason I'm saying this is because you say you have a good relationship with you're son. To me, this means that he knows your intentions with him are good, and I'm sure that means everything in the world to him. My heart breaks for you because I am going through a similar situation with my husband, but we've only been married for three years, and he's only been an addict for one. I can only imagine the toll this has taken with you. Stay strong, stand your ground, focus on your children (I'm talking to myself as well as you.)
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:22 AM
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Whenever I get down about the choices I've made as a parent (a mix of good and bad, but I think mostly good), I always get a chuckle out of this Philip Larkin poem:

Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse

They **** you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were ****ed up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.
Ha. Too late!
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Old 10-19-2012, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by MamaKit View Post
Liz, forgive me if I'm overstepping, but I think you need to give yourself a break. As I read your posts I get the sense that you are in a perpetual state of motion trying to fix, correct, undo, control, manage and mend all of the problems that seem to be the direct result of this awful family disease. It's just so much to handle. It's life-sucking.
Originally Posted by LaTeeDa View Post
I truly believe that you cannot "teach" children emotional health, other than by example. Parents are the primary role models and I know I learned much more from what my parents DID than what they SAID.
Amen! Liz, take a breath. There is nothing wrong with your son, and you didn't screw him up.

Two examples:

First, your story about the hiking trip reminded me of my ex-Mum-in-law's explanation of the day she left my ex-RABF's father. My ex-RABF, at the age of 3, wouldn't stop crying. His father, in a drunken rampage, was just about to smack him to get him to shut up.

Certainly it seems my ex-Mum-in-law was ultra-strong and powerful to swoop in a grab my ex-RABF and his baby brother and flee and never look back. She did exactly the right thing, right? But guess who can't ever cry as an adult? Crying made his father disappear, after all...

Second, my mother is very self-aware and lives a well-examined life. My father died when I was 3, (It's really not a good age for Dad to disappear), so my Mom spent most of my childhood trying to help/force me to recover from that trauma, constantly talking and "feeling" and screaming into pillows. It's no coincidence that I was 14 when I asked her to back off, stop trying to fix me. It was doing more damage knowing that my own mother thought I was broken in the first place!

The point is, you can't ever "win" and doing the right thing isn't so cut and dry. So again, take a breath! Your kid is fine. Just carry on being the caring and loving Mom you obviously already are. That's 99% of it, and the other 1% is luck and other crap that doesn't even matter.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:53 PM
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Children will gravitate toward healthy influences, regardless of the negative in their lives. That doesn't mean you can stay in an abusive home and turn out just fine. It just means that kids WANT to be healthy. Teach your son by example. Display healthy behaviors for him. Trying to fix, control or manipulate everything isn't going to help. You won't leave your AH, that much has been established. But make sure that your son has positive male influences in his life, whether it's teachers, coaches, youth ministers at church, whatever. He won't get out of this totally unscathed, but you can definitely minimize the damage. I only wish someone had cared enough about my sister and me as kids to try to set healthy examples for us. It would have saved us a lot of trouble.
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