2nd letter 2 my son and his response

August 17, 2006

 

“Christopher”,

My greatest downfall with you recently has been something totally personal and, it’s not at all what you’d think.  It’s not about these “emotional issues” you imagine I have about you leaving home.  (What I’ve been going through with regard to the whole “empty nest syndrome” is perfectly normal and natural and I’m personally very impressed with how I’ve dealt with it…without a single confidant or any type of support system.)  You say that I’ve treated you worse this summer than I have in your whole life; that you’ve felt worse in recent months than you ever have from both your father dying and having to move around so much your whole life.  As MUCH as I’ve turned these things over in my heart and mind, I can only see a portion of the truth in those statements.  I haven’t changed, son, not like you say I have.  But, I’ve done a lot of thinking and I’ve realized a few things…about myself.


The very bottom line is that I’ve been operating from guilt since I overdosed.  I can get over all of the other mistakes I’ve made that have affected you and your sister’s lives because, I know that, regardless of anything else I ALWAYS care a great deal about doing the right thing.  I understand that I’m only human and, as long as I’m doing my best; taking responsibility for myself and always striving to learn and grow and move forward, that I have permission to be human.  In other words, I never felt like I’d ever done anything that was unforgivable.  Until I overdosed.  I haven’t forgiven myself for that yet.  It’s not often that I do ANYthing that I already know is wrong.  And, it had to be that????  While I’m grateful for every experience I have because I understand that (regardless of how it feels sometimes) every moment is a perfect gift, I’m still appalled by the lack of respect I showed against my very own life by taking those pills…not to mention what kind of message(s) I sent to you and “your sister”.  You’ve always said that the whole situation never bothered you that much (even though I know better.)  But, I never really tried too hard to force you to talk about it because I figured you’d deal with it in your own time, in your own way.  After the whole traumatic event, I did my best at trying to recover from it; to pick myself out of the hole I’d thrown myself into and try to keep the two of you from falling into it with me.  I’m proud of how far I’ve come.  Honestly, I could have been dead three years ago.  Regardless of what you believe or how you think it should be, I’ve been fighting to stay alive since then, “Christopher”.  But, as good a job as I’ve done, I’ve neglected to identify some pretty important factors. 


Until all of this crazy stuff started happening with you, I’d never really realized how deeply ashamed I am of myself for doing that ****, or how it has affected my interaction with each of you.  The timing was ****** up, too (not that there’s ever a “good” time to overdose.)  But, every teenager arrives at a time in their lives when they feel it’s necessary to challenge the authority of their parents.  Every teenager goes through a faze where they feel like, in order to achieve and/or maintain their own, unique identities, they MUST totally separate from their parents.  But, winding up in the emergency room getting my stomach pumped severely damaged my own self-image; planted a huge seed of doubt (in myself) at a time when the two of you were just gearing up to start seriously challenging me.  Because of the way my self-image was affected, my authority had been compromised; maybe not in reality but, in my own mind.  At a time when I should have had my feet firmly braced to the ground, ready to confront your growing pains; ready to help guide you through it all, I was in the midst of scurrying about trying to piece my shattered “mom-armor” back together.  THIS is the reason why, over time, I have lost all objectivity with you. This is the reason why I REACT to you, instead of RESPONDING to you.  I’ve been totally preoccupied (emotionally and subconsciously) with trying to compensate for my own guilt and feelings of self-doubt.  More than anything else, THIS is what I regret.


You and I have always had an exceptional relationship, one that I have deeply cherished. Not just because it’s an exceptional relationship for a mother and son but because you bring so much to the table by being who you are.  I have to admit that, because of how close I’ve always felt we are, because I felt I’d “raised you right,” never once did I imagine that YOU would be so blatantly disrespectful to me, the way that you have been since right after you graduated (and when you turned eighteen.)  As a mother, I’m not supposed to take that type of stuff personally.  I’m supposed to be objective and strong enough to chalk it up as part of the growth process and confront it in the same way I have every other difficult situation I’ve encountered as a mother.  Every parent goes through this type of stuff with their children, especially as they begin to become young adults.  But, since our relationship has always been an exception to most rules, I feel okay about allowing an “exception“ in the way I’ve responded to your contempt for me and your utter lack of respect of me.  In other words, I think it’s normal and okay that I have taken it personally in this, a unique situation.  I, in fact, have been deeply hurt by it.


The problem is that, since I was already feeling a lot like a failure because of the overdose, I was completely disarmed and ill-equipped to deal with my own hurt feelings when you started disrespecting me.  I panicked.  I started experiencing all manner of self-deprecating thoughts and feelings about myself.  I blamed myself for your arrogance and lack of consideration.  It’s been a couple years since those shame and doubt seeds have been planted.  Without my even knowing it, they’ve grown into giant trees.  And, I haven’t been able to see past them.


There used to be a time when we’d all sit and watch those talk shows with the wayward teens on them.  How many times did you and your sister look at each other and make a remark like, “Man!  If that was us!  We would never have even made it to that stage!”  What happened?  What happened to make you think that you could say things to me like, “You should’ve just done it yourself?”


You know how I can be, sometimes.  You know how, sometimes, I can’t see, hear or even be aware of ANYthing else besides for whatever it is right in front of my own face, right?  If you were to sit and think about it, you would discover that, those times when I appear to be blind to everything else besides my own point, are the times when I am standing on something that I believe in.  While I consider myself to be extremely empathetic and nonjudgmental, I am extremely convicted when it comes to some things and you know this about me.  This world is a tough place to be in when you believe in something.  It will throw all manner of obstacle and weapon at you to try and deter you from the narrow path.  So, when that happens to me, when the world starts showing resistance to the Truths that I know to be whole, right and good, I fight.  And, no.  I don’t see anything else but the Truth that I am defending.  I will not apologize for this.  And, being the insightful young man that you are, you should appreciate and honor this about your mother.


You know how I feel about children respecting their parents and (all) elders.  This is definitely one of the things I’ve always known I’ve done right with you two.  You have both been living proof that you’ve learned it.  Underneath my own personal feelings of failure because of the overdose; underneath my own personal feelings of hurt and betrayal by you; there still lies this Truth:  Respect is essential.  Even if you were to remove my (inappropriately) emotional responses to your lack of it, there would STILL have been that Truth.  I would have STILL believed in it.  I would have STILL fought for it.  And, from this perspective, that’s why I have been so hard-core (albeit inconsistently “hard-core”) about your lack of respect.  I’ve responded to your disrespectfulness as if it were just another “thing” the world was trying to throw at me to deter me from the Truth (that respect is essential.)


But, most of my responses and/or reactions to you have been ineffective because they haven’t been thought-out or objective, in the least.  I injured my own ability to mother you.  I allowed this forest to take root.  But, it’s time to start cutting it down.


You’re not going off to college with things left the way they are.  I know you have a lot of pride but you’re just gonna have to get over it.  Swallowing your pride is one of the (many) uncomfortable things that grown-ups have to do.  You have to learn how.  Learn from watching me because I had to swallow a ton of pride to reach out to you now.  Yep!  That’s right!  I’m not just your mother, I’m a human being, too; a grown-up and responsible one who truly cares about doing what’s right; a divinely imperfect being…just like you…just like all of us.  As you continue to grow into the beautiful man you’re becoming, you will also learn to reconcile those truths in your heart and mind.


We’ve managed to do some damage to our relationship but none that is irreparable.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to waste being afraid and prideful, though.  We may need a little time to heal but, the time to start that process is definitely NOW.  There’s no need to put it off a minute longer.  We’ve had a few days to cool off and think.  Now, it’s time to start taking some responsibility.  We’ll need to talk.  We can do that when both of us feels ready to really listen to the other.  Maybe we could even start that in letters for a while.  There are a lot of really big emotions that need to be dealt with (on both ends.)  But, we will not EVER be “not in contact with each other.”  I, simply, will not allow it.  It’s not right.  We’re family.  In the end, all any of us has got.  I refuse to dishonor that truth by letting things deteriorate further.


I love you son.  Don’t wait until the last minute to get home.  Don’t let this be the way you start the rest of your life.  I didn’t mean for you to move out.  But, I definitely felt I needed to stress the point that I am in control of what happens under my roof.  I’ve made a lot of sacrifices (walked away from our house, my husband, a man that I love) to avoid discord in our home.  I just should have gone about stressing that point in an entirely different way, which may have still involved asking you to leave at some point.  It just should have been far more mature and self-controlled and objectIVE.


I hope that my open and honest explanations in this letter have eased your mind and heart some, if not made you feel a little validated.  I do care about your point of view; how you think and feel and everything you’re experiencing and learning in life right now.  I’m saddened by the amount of distance that has grown between us these past few months but, I’m confident that we will be able to move through and past it.


Time is of the essence.


Love,


Mom

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Mom,

I have to disagree with all the points you made or tried to make. You overdosing hardly efected me. You may say it is impossible for it not to have an effect on me, because everyone is human and things like that should effect them, but throughout my life i have learned that things happen constantly over time and you just have to deal with them and move on. That is how i have thought abo0ut everything that goes on in my life, and i am definetily thinking like that now through this situation. But honestly and truly one thing has effected me and that has been the way you have been there for gianni and i. You went from being basically a super mom, to, what i feel making sure you were right and comfortable. You were always gone with your boyfriend, you werent trying to get a job, and it just felt like you just quit on us. Then we went through that whole summer at e. south st. I went from being grounded 24/7 to being able to do whatever i wanted in an instant. But even when you would leave to go to your boyfriend's, it was the same way. If you can remember, i have talked to you the way i have talked to you ever since i can remember. You always had to tell me to watch what i was saying, and that i talk too much, and that i am not your father. Nothing has changed with our relationship, besides the way that you have been handling me seperating from you and becoming an individual. Regardless if you will believe it or not i have been doing things for myself for a long time now. You would always be there to help me out, but i would always make sure that things were straight. The only reason why i have been so emotional now is that i never expected for you to treat me the way you have been treating me. Yea you taught me about respect and i value that a whole bunch. That might be why i have always reacted to you the ways i have throughout my teenage years. I dont like being disrespected. I feel respect is mutual regardless of how old you are, or who you are. If you dont remeber, before i turned 16 i cussed grandma out for yelling at me. I wasnt grown and i didnt think that i was i just dindt want to be disrespected.

You act like you have been a perfect parent and that you havent mad that many mistakes throughout our child hood. How do you know the things that i have experienced with you havent effected me and our relationship like the things that happened between you and your mom? People take things different ways and people experience different things. You went through your child hood and experienced all of that, but everything that you have experienced since you had me i had to expereince plus the things that i was going through as an individual. I am who i am and i will always be who i am. I just don understand why, since your mom was so horrible to you, you would do the same thing to me she did to you. I had one week left, and i was trying to make things cool and you just needed to be mad. I hav said what i said to you and just as much as you feel that you are standing up for something that you believe in i am doing the same thing. Just remeber that you created this because you didnt know how to handle my departure. You kicked me out a week before i leave for college. You are the one who tainted our relationship because of you desire to be in control and be the authority, and not respect who i am and where i am going and where i am at for what i have been through. Remeber how much money you had to spend on my college education and how much work you had to do with me throughout my times of adolescences.
MysticWriter MysticWriter
36-40, F
5 Responses Aug 17, 2006

To the Son: Learn how to spell....

Thank you, LadyFire. I got tears in my eyes when i read your post. I especially love the "compensating for your mistakes" remark because that really is SO important and i've always known it. I guess I just never really recognized it in that way before; nor has anyone ever put it just like that. But, you're right: it is essential to try to compensate for the things we do wrong, as parents. Sometimes, it's merely the attempt that compensates. And, I know in my heart of hearts that I 've done that for both of my children. ...maybe not for every single mistake but for most of the ones that really mattered.<br />
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thank you again.<br />
<br />
love and blessings....

Mountainman, you're the shiznizzle!!! All this stuff happened with my son over a year ago just before he left for college. It's crazy how, when you're IN something, it's SO difficult (if not impossible) to see anything else. (Personally, I think that has something to do with physics...you know, how you can't measure something's velocity and location at the same time?) Anyway, I love the things you say, mountainman. You are 100% right and wise and I've learned to REALLY recognize and PAY ATTENTION to the truth so, thank you for telling it all the time!!

What a wise and loving young man. . . . . <br />
Be so proud. Quit being so hurt and be thankful for what a great youngster you have raised. Drop the past and worry in the trash can and move forward with love and respect for him. He dosent seem to hold any grudges and i'd bet my bottom dollar he'd be thrilled to get a atta boy letter from you.NO negative stuff!<br />
Ya done good. Ya cant change the past but you can lay a better foundation for the future.<br />
no one who raised such a well grounded young man is a failure. I'm a tough grader an a Dad . <br />
be of good cheer be thank ful for the good stuff and dont dwell on the stuff that went wrong aand ya cant change anyhow!<br />
Dx

Please excuse my 2 cents...Just wanted to add something for the two of you to think about. First...it's great that you guys are communicating...keep it up! All I really wanted to say is...no one is perfect and "all things change." Make sure that you work this out and go back to being mother and son. There will never be another relationship like this again...it is a true experiece that will have no equal. It may end up as a different relationship (change is the only constant in the universe) but it will be a beter one. Good luck!