letting each other go

Archive for March, 2007

Knocking on Wood

Posted by Leo G on March 29, 2007


It’s been a quiet week. Bup seems to be trying really hard to be good. He’s doing the little things that we usually have to nag about: bringing dirty dishes back up to the kitchen, feeding the dog, being ready on time for school. And he’s being pleasant to his sister and his parents. Maybe he is trying to show us that he’s not really the scary kid who made threats in his rage. Maybe he’s just trying to lull us back into complacency. Maybe he is being good as he plots our demise. Or maybe the long conversation we had reminded him of who he wants to be. He doesn’t really want to grow up to be an addict and a dealer, does he?

In the meantime, we’ve started planning a “rite of passage” trip for him this summer. We’re thinking of sending him to a very close family friend who lives in the Mediterranean. (not in the sea, but in the area.) There are several reasons we think this might be a good idea. We think he needs some one-on-one time with his “Uncle” who is mixed race, was raised here, and understands that part of what Bup is going through. We think a trip like this might remind him how big the world is and how much there is “out there” for him to explore. He’d also be going to a place where, for the first time, he wouldn’t be in the minority as a brown-skinned young man. And he’d be going alone–a cool thing for a sixteen year old and by handling the travel, he could have an experience of his own competence. Plus, would you turn down three weeks in the Mediterranean instead of hanging out at home all summer?

For now, things are at peace in our home. He doesn’t appear to be using much. He finally got his learner’s permit and is able to drive with a parent, which is a first step. We scheduled a drug test for a few weeks from now, giving him time to get the stuff out of his system. We want him to pass, after all. If he does, he’ll get to expand his driving to busy streets and even the freeway, though he’ll need to still be with a parent until he completes driver’s ed. So for now, things are calm.

But I’m still knocking on wood.

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Posted in Ups | 8 Comments »

Another Side of Bup

Posted by Leo G on March 24, 2007

A note, found on the kitchen counter today:

Dear Father,
I have dispersed for a time of frollicking [sic] with my colleagues.
I will also be studing [sic] my spelling.
Love,
Bup

Posted in Coping | 4 Comments »

Release and a Few Blessings

Posted by Leo G on March 22, 2007

I just reconnected with one of my dearest friends, and even from halfway across the world he was able to be present to me in a way that finally released the tears. I need a new word for this man. He is more than friend, more even than brother. He listened until I admitted my deepest fears and the guilt I’ve been carrying. No matter how silly it seems, parents always blame themselves. I am no different. I keep thinking of all the ways I should have prepared him, all the things I should have said, all the ways I should have been able to make his life better. There is little truth to it, but I still carry it. Tonight’s cry was only the barest beginning. But it is a start.

It’s been a very hard week, but even so there are blessings. My son now has people of many faiths all over the world praying for him. As do I. Who would have thought when I started this blog as a place to let off steam and process my feelings, it would be the beginning of a this strange kind of community? From “mommy bloggers” to religious leaders to other adolescents and young adults who are struggling…we’ve found this little place where it seems the whole point is to be honest and kind and supportive. (I could only do the honest part…you’ve done the kind and supportive.)

In the face of so much rage and pain coming from my son and sometimes invading my soul, it is incredibly important to also witness the good in people. So thank you. You are making a difference.

Posted in gratitude | 2 Comments »

Six Hours

Posted by Leo G on March 21, 2007

Last night I spent six hours talking first with my son (2 hours) and then my partner. It was intense and hard and confusing and heartbreaking. It feels like so much is falling apart.

I am having to begin to deal with the fact that my son is an addict and addicts are liars. His rage is so intense that he was threatening bodily harm. And to burn our house down. All because we set one simple limit: you cannot drive a car if you are testing positive for drug use.

The power of his desperation and rage is devastating. He can’t imagine going without pot for long enough to come up negative on a drug screen. That’s about three weeks. He says we are trying to ruin his life. He’s doing that well enough on his own. It’s ripping my heart out.

Today, there is nothing to be done. He won’t voluntarily go into treatment, so we have to wait until he is court-ordered to do so. That means watching him do something that lands him in the juvenile justice system. The very place I’ve dreaded and fought ever having my child. He’s an African-American youth. He may not come out alive.

Today is grief writ large. Pray for us, if you have a moment.

Posted in Downs | 15 Comments »

Quiet Days…or not

Posted by Leo G on March 16, 2007

I’m not feeling great, which makes it hard to write every day like I’d hoped. I have one of those nasty colds that just drags on. Not quite bad enough to stay in bed all day, but at about half energy. Today it’s hit my chest and I am coughing. My lungs burn as if I’d inhaled rubbing alcohol and lit a match. But enough whining.

We’ve had almost two weeks of quiet now. I got a rude text message today when my phone was off. (Think “answer the *expletive* phone!”) He was in a very difficult situation where he was being treated unfairly, so I get where his anger and rudeness came from. Still, I replied that he shouldn’t be so rude. I’m to the point where I don’t know exactly when to confront him and when to let things go. The text was inappropriate and talking like that isn’t acceptable to me. On the other hand, he was in a really crappy situation and was extremely frustrated. It’s a small deal in the long run, but saying nothing felt like submitting to abuse.

Well, as I was writing, the day got a lot less quiet. Buppy called and we talked/argued for a long time. You see, there is this band trip. They leave next week. He wants to go, but is supposed to have a certain grade point average and a certain citizenship grade. When he tried to turn in the deposit check, he didn’t meet those requirements. Now he says the band teacher never said that, but only returned the check because he was supposed to pay in the office, not to the band teacher. I asked him why he didn’t just go to the office and turn it in, and he had no real answer. So in therapy, we outlined a plan that would get us what we needed: We’d write an email to the band teacher confirming that Bup was allowed to go. He’d find out if there was any documentation–a parent permission slip, an information packet, anything–he said there was nothing. We emailed the band teacher who confirmed that Buppy did NOT have the requisite grades. So, of course, now we ruined everything. If only we’d just paid the money without asking, he’s convinced no one would have ever checked and he’d get to go.

Sigh. The crappy thing is, he’s probably right. The school is pretty dang disorganized and he’s well enough liked that it could easily have happened that way. But we went and did the right thing. Which means no trip. He is furious and his arguments are so distorted and illogical that it would be funny if he weren’t so explosively angry. We’ve ruined everything. Never mind that it was his actions that made his grades unacceptable. Sigh.

Posted in Downs | 6 Comments »

A Good Weekend and Happy Birthday

Posted by Leo G on March 13, 2007


Happy Sixteenth, Buppy!

We had a good weekend. We went to a second family session with his new therapist. It was good. The Doc pointed out how much alike my son and I are when it comes to our determination to be heard. We worked out a plan of action for getting clear on whether or not Bup can go on the band trip with his school. We managed to laugh a bit.

The only hard moment this weekend was my fault. I called him Friday night, being extremely crabby and “hard.” Turns out he’d already left a message (on our home phone, not cell) giving me all the information I needed. He had gotten a VIP pass to a very cool local indoor mini theme park and was having the time of his life for free. Roller coaster, inline skating, movies, free food… And I called and gave him all sorts of attitude. And he’d really tried to do the right thing.

Sigh. Oh well. I apologized. We had a decent talk after that. I apologized again during the therapy session. I know it sounds wimpy, but I am trying hard to model respect and decency in our relationship. I think it made a difference.

He doesn’t appear to be using much, but that may be because he’s out of money. That will change today when he gets cash gifts from his grandparents. He has an A in English, because he seems to like that teacher. (There are a few F’s too.) I’m glad he is applying himself to something.

Mostly, I am hoping this birthday is the start of continuing maturity. For sixteen years, the half of the year from his birthday to September has been the easy time. The six months from his “half birthday” to March have been hard every single year. A dad can hope…

Posted in Ups | 3 Comments »

Two Sides Speaking Two Languages

Posted by Leo G on March 10, 2007

To make a long story short…(I hope):

I had a long talk with my son last night that wasn’t quite an argument. He is angry that we worry so much about “stupid” things. He is absolutely defensive when I point out all the reasons we worry. He says we “don’t look at him, but only at our fears. Did I mention that he thinks our worrying and concern is stupid? He insists he is only smoking pot and doesn’t know what a “benzo” is.

The most interesting thing he said was, “I wish you had a camera that could follow me around all day and see everything I am doing right.” Me too, buddy, me too. He is so convincing and, as a parent, I so want to believe him. I want to believe that things are not as bad as they seem. I don’t want to be an overprotective, meddling parent. But I sure as heck won’t be the laissez-faire, nonchalant parent he wants. (In other words, letting him have whatever he wants.)

On the other hand, we’ve found empty cold tablet containers in his pants pockets, compressed air containers that can be used for “huffing,” homemade soda can pot pipes, and the positive drug test for both pot and the benzos. So I’m pretty sure my worries aren’t just “stupid.” And while he does seem to be attending school again, his grades still stink. (This from a kid who’s spent his whole life in honors classes.) And then there was the suspension for fighting and the staying out all night. (Oh, and his explanation for that was that he wanted to give us something “real” to worry us, since we were so stupid for worrying over nothing–now that is adolescent logic.)

Anyway, the good thing is, we didn’t actually argue. He yelled a bit, but I stayed calm and just kept trying to communicate. He calmed down some. He admitted that he knows I love him, but has a hard time thinking of my worrying as “love” instead of “stupid.” He wants us to wholeheartedly believe that he is good, in control, and not going to ruin his life.

I wish it were that easy…

Posted in Trying to communicate | 1 Comment »

The Picture

Posted by Leo G on March 8, 2007

I couldn’t find, but so wanted to go with the poem yesterday:
photo by Michael Tyson

Things are fine today. I’m tired instead of angry. I was reminded by someone who had their own adolescent issues that he will probably survive and even go on to thrive.

It’s the “probably” I worry about.

Posted in Coping | 1 Comment »

Letting Myself Go

Posted by Leo G on March 7, 2007

Okay, so I am trying so damn hard to be caring, loving, and the quintessential “good Dad.” But you know what? While I am that, I am also pissed. I am mad at this kid who is taking advantage of our love and caring to do stupid and destructive things. I’m mad at him for being so egocentric that he dares to tell us that our sleepless nights are our fault because we worry too much. I’m mad that he seems to be throwing away all the opportunities we’ve worked so hard to give him.

Down deep I am having a big old temper tantrum. I am considering all the terrible things I could do to him. I am wishing to be another kind of parent: either one who doesn’t care so much or one willing to do anything–and I mean anything–to control my son. I want him to stop hurting himself and me, but most of all I want him to stop hurting the other people I love–my sweetheart and partner, and my daughter. The anger is burning a hole in me. (That’s the ulcer, but it’s also an inner wound.)

And in another part of me, down deep, I am still in denial. I keep wanting to explain away his behavior as “typical teenager stuff.” I want to focus on the ways he is still wonderful to be with. I want to believe that it’s all his friends’ fault. I want to keep him “pure” and “innocent” in my mind. I want to say, “Oh, he’ll get through this in a couple of weeks.”

But it’s been a couple of weeks. It’s been seven months.

I love this child but I am so mad at him for squandering his gifts. If you could meet my son, you’d know what I mean. He has everything he needs to be successful at anything he wants to do. He has the looks, the strength, the charisma, the intelligence…and rather than apply himself, he’s decided to opt out. To be a druggie. The word “wasted” takes on a whole new meaning.

The anger is, in part, my reaction to being so out of control. I know that because of the “perfect post” award that Suburban Turmoil gave me, many of you who are reading have small children. I remember those days and all the dreams I wrapped up in this child. He was my Buppie, my dear boy, my heart, and in a small way, my own future. I was (and still am) perfectly willing to put his needs, his life, his good above my own. I did everything I could to ensure his future–gave him every opportunity, read every book, fought for every advantage I could. And when it comes down to it, there is nothing I can do. As parents, we are ultimately powerless.

It’s a Faustian bargain. We love these children with every fiber of our beings and pour our lives out for them. And then we have to let them go.

It may be trite, but these lines from Mary Oliver’s “In Blackwater Woods” keep running through my mind:

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:

to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Posted in Coping | 6 Comments »

No Big News

Posted by Leo G on March 6, 2007

Looking forward to second therapy where I hope we can say a few things without risking a “scene.” There’s a house full of family because of my father-in-law’s memorial. We made sure to celebrate our daughter’s birthday yesterday. She’s highly invested in being the “good kid.” I totally recognize that from my own days as younger sibling to a troubled teen.

Everyone is safe and well for the moment.

But that’s the torment of this whole situation. There is always the shadow of doubt…the waiting for the worst…the way we jump every time the phone rings. Did he skip classes today? Are we going to end up in the juvenile “justice” system? Or maybe the real question is “When are we going to see the judge?”

According to the US Department of Education, truancy is “the first sign of trouble; the first indicator that a young person is giving up and losing his or her way. When young people start skipping school, they are telling their parents, school officials, and the community at large that they are in trouble and need our help if they are to keep moving forward in life.”

Okay, but the problem is that teenagers don’t want help. So we’re just left with the anxiety of waiting for the crisis, the trouble, the pain…

I’m getting an ulcer. And migraines. And my heart is still breaking. Where is the help for us?

Posted in Coping | 4 Comments »