letting each other go

Archive for May, 2007

Sixteen Thinking

Posted by Leo G on May 30, 2007

I went with my son to his counseling appointment yesterday. It was not contentious or difficult, but it was eye-opening. We kept running into ways that Bup engages in what I call “sixteen thinking.” It’s thinking that isn’t rational by adult standards but makes perfect sense if you’re sixteen.

He firmly believes he can become whatever he wants to become without regard to rules, grades, or other outward signs of achievement. He thinks everyone should understand how much promise he has, even if he never performs. He tells us we don’t trust him because we won’t just keep believing that he’s going to do the things he says he’s going to do. (Even though his actions rarely live up to his promises.)

He thinks his life is more stressful than ours. He thinks he will end up being an NBA player or a rap star. Without working at it. He’ll just be discovered. He thinks he’s better than all the other kids like him that want to be NBA stars. He thinks he can find a way to be an NBA star even while he flunks his classes and is ineligible for high school ball.

He really believes all this. No use arguing with him. He knows it to be true and if we don’t believe him, we’re just faithless and stupid. I’ve never seen someone with such faith. Oh, except me, when I was sixteen.

As much as I hate it, some of this is pure brain development. Nothing can be done except providing consistent love and boundaries.


Posted in Coping | 9 Comments »

Quote of the Day

Posted by Leo G on May 16, 2007


One can acquire everything in solitude except character. –Stendhal

If you haven’t gathered by now, thing in my marriage are hard. Heartbreakingly hard. I may need to be quiet here for a while. I don’t know. I will try not to isolate.

Posted in Coping | 3 Comments »


Posted by Leo G on May 10, 2007

Woke up to an argument. Bup broke his foot (just a slight fracture–supposed to treat it like a sprain, stay off it as much as possible, etc.) He didn’t want to go to school, and handled it in the worst possible way. He just didn’t get up. No warning, no discussion, everybody already late. Very adolescent.

I think he is in some pain. We’re not letting him have anything stronger than ibuprofen. And since his sister was home all last week with a cold, he feels he deserves a day off for a broken bone. Now, if we can just get him to learn to deal with things with some maturity, some respect for others, even just be more strategic, it’d help. Because of him, his sister was late to school and my partner was late to work. That didn’t help. He’s into sports–surely he can learn strategy.

Posted in Coping | 4 Comments »

So, about that last post…

Posted by Leo G on May 5, 2007

Clearly, it’s not an “either/or.” But it still matters. Up until the past couple of weeks, I’ve only thought of Bup’s drug use as a problem. I hadn’t considered at all that it might be a symptom of other things. I think it’s important to keep both in mind. It keeps us from seeing him only as a “bad guy,” which isn’t helpful at all. He’s sixteen. He’s trying to cope with a lot. He’s coping in a way that is very troubling and painful for all of us. But it helps to remember that this is not him trying to hurt us. This is not him just being a jerk. This is a teenager trying to make sense of the world, its rules, its temptations, and its pain.

Interestingly, the person in our family who is most angry at Bup is the one who has also used (and still uses, to a lesser degree) substances to cope with emotions. You’d think that this person would be able to empathize–or at least to imagine that Bup is in pain. But that’s not happening. It’s puzzling to me. It seems like they think Bup is doing this on purpose, to make our lives miserable. Or maybe it’s that they only see the effects and never think to look for reasons behind Bup’s behavior.

I guess I was doing some of that too. Which is why the “cause/effect” or “cause or symptom” question became so important to me. My son is not a monster, using drugs simply for his own pleasure or to cause us grief. He’s someone who is struggling and who will benefit more from our love and support than our blame. (I know he needs firm boundaries…I’m talking about love that is strong and principled and real.)

So that’s what I meant. And for all of you that suggested family therapy–we’re already there. Have been for a while. And we’re a family of therapists and social workers. We’re doing the right things. But it’s still a process. No quick fix. No magic bullet. No simply enforcing better boundaries, etc. I hope, the next time you see a drug addict, a homeless youth, a gang member, or even the “shooter” in some brutal and horrific crime, you’ll remember with me that there are no easy answers. Somebody (maybe even lots of somebodies) may have been trying everything they knew to help. And it still may not be enough.

Mia: Living Life Trying
photo by David Hogsholt, winner “Best of Photo Journalism” Enterprise Story, 3rd place. He says of the picture:

Mia is 26 years old. She is a drug addict and a prostitute. In a world of crack, heroin, short term relationships, and too many dark days, she is trying to lead a halfway decent life. Trying to be there for her family and for her friends when they need her. Trying to keep her addiction from killing her. Trying to live a life other people wouldn’t deem worthy.

Mia behind Copenhagen’s Grand Central Station. This is the area which holds the city’s red light district. It has been a tough year for Mia. She lost her boyfriend to an overdose, her own addiction got worse and she hardly ever saw her six year old daughter who is in foster care.

Posted in addiction, Coping | 5 Comments »

A Question

Posted by Leo G on May 2, 2007

What if the drug use is not a *cause* of family stress, but a symptom?

Posted in Coping | 4 Comments »