So see previous post, where I expected this weekend to suck big apples. It didn’t take long for the BFD to kick on (birth family drama).
1:30 Younger brother arrives T. covers his face with his hands, yells “get away from me” when his brother tries to hug him. Looks at me and says “Can you buy him some clothes?! Look what he’s wearing!” Younger brother looks at me with his gentle smile, a little bit of heartbreak in his eyes.
1:32 Younger brother says to T. “Have you talked to mom?” T. says no, she isn’t speaking to him right now (she stopped speaking to him four months ago because he was visiting some other relatives he grew up with and didn’t go to visit her). Neither boy has ever lived with her, and T. only met her for the first time when he was around twelve. Younger brother turns to me and says “I told her I didn’t want to live with her and she told me to get out of her house and I haven’t talked to her since.”
“It’s good that you’re able to talk about what you want, even if it’s not what she wants to hear,” I say. “I know you guys will be close again some day.” I’m about to pat myself on the back for finding anything to say at all, when T. ruins the moment: “NO! She’s got problems!” he yells.
2:00 we go across the street to get McDonalds for the boys and return to find that T. has phoned their mom and left her a message. In turn, she called back and left an angry insulting message on his voicemail. He’s wound up, in the high-anxiety trauma place he goes when he panics. He wants to play the voicemail for me but finds he deleted it. I suggest that he let things go and focus on enjoying the time with his brother. He walks away – he’s not listening.
It suddenly dawns on me. That’s what this visit is about. He wanted to have his brother over so that he could show his mom that he’s a good son, and that he’s keeping the family together. Then maybe she won’t be mad at him anymore. Oh crap.
2:10 I go in the tv room to find T. has called his mom again. “Just listen to me!” I hear him saying. “Stop yelling! Can we at least come visit you? We’re here together.” I stop in my tracks. She hangs up on him. I quietly wave him into the other room.
2:11 I try explaining in a quiet loving way that we aren't going to take the boys to see their mom this weekend – although I’ve spoken with her on the phone, I haven’t met her. I don’t know whether younger brother is allowed unsupervised visits with mom, and T. hasn’t seen her in years. The situation is too volatile today because he and his mom are upset. I try to say all this without implying any disrespect or unwillingness to facilitate a visit some other time when we’ve all had a chance to plan it together. Of course, T. shuts it down, tells me he’s not listening to me, it’s none of my business, and he means me no disrespect, but he doesn’t want to hear my input on this topic. He storms out.
2:30 Tim gets both boys playing video games. By sitting his considerable presence between them, he’s able to get them off the phone and settled down a bit. If the first hour of this weekend is any indication, I’m going to need a week to recover.
I generally have a ton of compassion for T.’s birth mom. But today, I’m out of patience. I feel like telling her that these boys are not her boyfriends. They are children. They aren’t equipped to play this game with her where she accuses them of not loving her enough, leaves them nasty voicemail messages and hangs up on them when they call. It’s not fair at all to expect them to chase her and win her over. She wasn’t there, and they needed to survive and they have done the best they can. If she would free them to feel good about that, it would do them a whole bunch of good.
T.’s younger brother is the one with the more obvious behavioral symptoms. But it’s T. who, because he has a capacity to deeply repress things and extraordinary skills that make him high functioning in many respects, is far more volatile than his brother. His younger brother shows his pain on the surface and a lot of people help him through it. T. keeps his buried deep inside and when it bubbles to the surface – when his life catches up with him – he unravels and gets completely manic. He tends to be an utter control freak even on good days, and the chaos of his relationship with his birth mom pushes his controlling tendencies right over the edge. He tries to use his cognitive skills to solve the problem on his own and he can’t. It won’t ever be fixed. As that dawns on him, you can see him swept up in a vortex of horror as he realizes that all that pain didn’t go away after all – it’s sitting right there waiting for him.
3:06 An old friend of Tim's calls out of the blue. His art framing shop is overwhelmed with business and he wants to offer T. a job for the rest of the summer. The mood lightens. T., excited by the prospect of making money, comes back to the present. I am flooded with gratitude. Kindness and support in parenting T. come from the most unexpected places and at the oddest times.
Come on everybody dream along!
1 day ago