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  •  Sadly, sometimes a parent of a child (18+ / 0-)

    with a serious problem, particularly a mental health problem, responds as though he/she has failed, personally.  
    When my 16-year-old son was being treated for acute depression, it was my husband who nearly lost it.  He was sure we'd done something horribly wrong, even if we didn't know what it was.
    He told me one day when the pressure was particularly intense that he wasn't going to be able to do it, he was going to leave.
    I'm afraid I didn't respond very supportively - I told him he was indeed going to "handle it" and that he would do his job as a father and give his son all the loving support that son needed because it was his JOB.  If he fell apart afterward, then so be it.  But not until his son no longer needed him.  Very unkind, I realize, but it seemed to help him a lot.  He was much more focused on how angry he was with me, and he was just great with our son.
    Rena, thanks for this diary, and I hope that poor girl can find some relief soon.  She must feel so tormented.  And how painful for her Mom, and for you, who loves them both!  Please keep us updated on their situation.  

    •  Sherlyle... (11+ / 0-)

      Your story about your husband reminds me of one with mine and my stepson.  Husband and stepson were at each other constantly.  We knew stepson had some problems, though we wouldn't figure out for several more months how serious they were.  Husband and stpeson had had a falling out - a serious one - and stepson had stormed off.  Husband went running out the door, pissed off, to find stepson.  I knew the confrontation would be horrible and just had this idea that it would permanently damage them both.  So, I ran into street and screamed "Why do you always have to be a such an ASSHOLE" at husband, which stopped him in his tracks and got him mad at ME.  C'est la vie - sometimes that's how you have to go about it, and in my case (and it sounds like in yours), it was the RIGHT thing to do.

      •  Right. Instinctive move to protect child? (14+ / 0-)

        I know that's the only thing I was thinking, and I suspect it was so with you, too.  
        Our son recovered and is flourishing and happy, and his Dad not only isn't angry with me anymore, he says he didn't realize how strong a person I was before..I tell him No, Honey, I'm just a mother.

        •  Heh. :-) (6+ / 0-)

          Wish I could say stepson has pulled through his issues beautifully - he's doing better, but he's far from "good".  At any rate, had husband caught up to stepson, as mad as they both were, it would have gone down ugly.  As a stepmom, I have/had the weird perspective of trying to protect them, at times, from each other.  

          •  What is it with fathers and sons? (7+ / 0-)

            Seems like there comes a point when the son insists Dad see him as a man, as an equal.  Usually this is very hard for Dad to do, who knows how immature this kid is still.  Lots of testosterone floats around, and things can get physical and ugly very quickly.
            We've raised 2 boys of our own, and 2 others who were fosters, and this issue came up each time.  Dad became much wiser about dealing with adolescent male angst and was able to defuse situation when it started looking like the kid was going to force a physical confrontation.  
            We also raised 2 girls, and there was the same sort of "day of reckoning" between Mom and daughter, but no physical stuff.  She wanted to prove herself my equal, and I wanted respect.  
            Long story short, everyone got what they needed, and we all still love each other hugely.  It doesn't get much better than that, and the transient pain of being "challenged" was well worth it.

    •  You're right on, sherlyle. (9+ / 0-)

      I have a best friend whose son was bi-polar and manifested signs since his 2nd birthday or so. His parents did everything they knew to do. When he committed suicide at 21 they nearly destroyed themselves with grief and esecially guilt. They did promise each other that they would not blame each other and to pull closer to one another instead of letting his death distance them. It's been 6 years now. The guilt is still there, but they each have found a way to cope.

      •  Oh, I can't think of anything more painful. (9+ / 0-)

        The need to protect your child is just that - a NEED, and an overwhelming one.  This poor baby probably never had much chance of any outcome but this one, from the sound of it.  
        So good to hear his parents didn't lose their faith in each other.  Maybe some day they'll both have faith in themselves again.  Or maybe not.  Some things are so painful the scars will never fully heal.  Madgranny, give your friend an extra hug, please.  

      •  It's difficult not to accept some blame on (4+ / 0-)

        yourself as a parent (natural or step).  In the case of my stepson, there are two questions that kind of bug me from time to time.  First, I can't believe I didn't see his substance issues earlier.  Truth be told, I had these nagging suspicions but because I never did drugs nor was I ever around anyone who did drugs, I didn't trust my own instincts and felt that accusing him falsely would be more damaging than just accusing him and letting it play out.  Second, there was a time before his real involvement with drugs that his father and I considered military school.  It wasn't that we wanted to punish him - it's that we truly thought there was a chance the structure would be exactly what he needed.  Yet we opted against it, in part because of the cost and in part because he had already been shuffled and jerked around by his mom on his way to us.  I wish I could re-do those two items - it would at least have allowed me to intervene sooner.  So it's hard not to blame yourself when you're responsible for someone else.  ((sigh))

        •  I've often wondered (9+ / 0-)

          if we people (and especially parents) think too little of ourselves or too highly. We certainly accept that guilt and blame readily as if we deserve it. On the other hand, to expect that we can see all, know all, understand all and predict all is pretty grand, isn't it?

          •  Wisdom, madgranny. That's wisdom. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            taylormattd, RenaRF, ladybug53, myrealname

            And makes me smile, too!

          •  I am eternally grateful to a shrink (7+ / 0-)

            I had while in boarding school.  I was a desperately unhappy teenager - I've written about it - and while I didn't turn to drugs or that particular brand of destructive behavior, I would have suicidal thoughts.  The outlet was to remove myself from the situations that were causing me such distress, namely school.  So I wound up in boarding school (family decision which included my input) but I still had some problems with depression.  The school sent me to a wonderful psychologist in the area who really helped by essentially calling me on my own bullshit.

            Years later, I dropped out of college - long backstory, and one I won't go into here - but my mother was beside herself when I did this.  She called the shrink (even though I was through seeing him due to the fact that I had moved to another place entirely) and lamented "What have I done WRONG?"  And she meant it. The shrink calmly told her that if she was going to be a drama queen and blame herself and be such a control freak that it HAD to be her fault, he had no help to offer her.  :-)  Essentially, he let her know that I was making decisions - good and bad - for myself.  It was hard, but necessary, for my mother to learn that.

            •  Maybe someone should do a survey (11+ / 0-)

              here on DKos about what kinds of teen years we all had.  Apparently that's another thing many here have in common.  Are we liberals because we had difficult childhoods and learned compassion, or did we have difficult childhoods because we're liberals?

              •  Good question and (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ladybug53, sherlyle

                very interesting.  

                Let there be peace on Dailykos, and let it begin with me.

                by myrealname on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 10:53:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  ditto: good idea (3+ / 0-)

                but I think it should go back earlier than teen years. Many of us were abused as small children.

                And yes, sherlyle, I think I am a more compassionate person because of the challenges I've had throughout my life. The impact of my life experiences have deeply impacted both my spirituality and my politics.

                People often ignore (repress?) their bad experiences and my guess is that they could be from any part of the political spectrum.

                A sad/funny anecdote that may support your point, however:

                Many years ago, I met a very nice but conservative woman. We had some significant things in common and became friends. As our friendship grew, she ended up confiding in me about a serious abusive situation she had endured and asked me for help, both as a confidante and a provider of professional contacts. After lots of hard work on her part, she came to some peace of mind and is thriving.

                And she has become an outspoken liberal!

                Was that because of coming to grips with her history or because she was brainwashed by me?? :>)

                "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

                by bleeding heart on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:16:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Did she become a Liberal because she was (2+ / 0-)

                  "liberated" from her fear?  
                  Fascinating, bleeding heart.  About the childhoods, your remark certainly rings true.  And I agree that most who've had the strength to endure and survive such a childhood are far wiser, far kinder than most.  So..did we survive with souls mostly intact because we were already possessed of natures more likely to forgive, to find value in a life that had been unforgivable, or did our natures change as we suffered these things because we learned fallibility and compassion?
                  I read something in a scifi/fantasy book once that has stayed with me.  It was about a secret organization of women used to torture states' enemies..they were reknowned for their expertise in all things cruel.  
                  Recruiters for this "club" would travel all over the land asking villagers if they knew of any particularly "nice" little girls, children who were particularly soft-hearted and kind.  It was these children who were recruited, because "only the kindest hearts are capable of the greatest cruelty.  Only the kindest truly understand how to destroy a spirit".  Yow.

                  •  Good thing it was sci fi . . . (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    historys mysteries, sherlyle

                    I was one of those good little girls, perfect. I was always tapped to take care of others, even as a child. My "niceness" was exploited. To be honest, I can't imagine being turned into a cruel person. A smartoff mouth, yes, but not cruel.

                    I didn't stop being nice, but it took me years to find my soul and purpose, and that journey was not without its own missteps.

                    For me, it was the combination of background and events that shaped -- and continue to shape -- me.

                    "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

                    by bleeding heart on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:54:14 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So much for the idea that the past is past, eh? (2+ / 0-)

                      I wish I could think of a clever way to say you're doing great (I always take the time to read your posts) and give you encouragement, or something that would help, bleeding heart.  Can't think of anything.  But if you could see my face, you'd see tears in my eyes, and respect, and affection.  For the good little girl you were, and for the strong, fascinating, complicated, and goodhearted person you've become.  Salute.

                      •  You are too kind, but thank you. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        I have been lucky. Many good things have happened in my life. In no way would I suggest that bad things happen for a reason but I have been the beneficiary of some wisdom that helped put my life experiences in perspective. I hope the young girl and her mom have the same good fortune as I.

                        Read my posts? You're a sweetie! A latte (or other beverage of choice) on me if we meet up a yKos!

                        "You can count on Americans to do the right thing after they've tried everything else." -- Winston Churchill

                        by bleeding heart on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 12:56:15 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  Sounds good (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                historys mysteries, sherlyle

                but constructing the poll would be hard.

                A diary on the topic would be interesting.

                Mine? Seriously screwed up.

                Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

                by plf515 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:49:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I have posted such a diary (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

                by plf515 on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 06:09:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Rena, you've just described the pain (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          taylormattd, RenaRF, DMiller, myrealname

          of parenthood very clearly.  There is no 800 number you can call, there is no "Instructions for Use" manual that comes with a kid.  Most of the time, a parent going through a situation like yours has no idea what the "right" thing to do might be.
          You start out with only the fact that you love this kid, and you want whatever will make their lives better.  And then...??  If there's time, you gather information and advice.  If there's not, you do what seems right, what seems best, and hope like hell you got it right.  Sometimes you'll be wrong.
          But.  If that kid knows, in a deep and basic way, that you LOVE him or her, and that you mean to do the right thing, it will usually turn out okay.
          I told all my kids, often, that I like them so much, that even if they weren't actually my kids, I'd still want to be their friend.  I told them that I never wanted them to doubt for a moment how much I loved them, and that seems to have been plenty.  
          Parenthood is HARD.  Nobody ever told me before I had these little critters how much heartache I would experience being a parent.  And now I realize that's just as well.  Would I have believed it?  Nah.  

          •  Owner's manaul (4+ / 0-)

            I worked at a camp for disturbed children for two summers.  

            Before the camp started, they had a psychologist come in to talk to the counselors, and answer questions

            One asked: "What if I do something that makes it worse?"

            he gave a GREAT answer:

            You're not here for the money - you could make more doing something else.  You're not here for the hours, because you would work fewer hours almost anywhere else.  You're here because you love kids.  They'll know.

            and they did.

            Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

            by plf515 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:52:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  My mother always seemed to regard my (6+ / 0-)

      problems (and there were lots of problems....I was suicidal for a few years, came very close a couple times; had NO friends 'til college, yada yada) as HER failings, and as if the biggest issue was that my being screwed up reflected badly on her.

      Not a good way to deal with this.

      Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

      by plf515 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 09:37:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh no, plf515, definitely NOT a good way. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jmonch, plf515

        One of the lessons I had the hardest time getting through my head was this - Some people are NOT and will NEVER be, suitable as parents.  And if they are parents anyway, they'll do a lousy job of it.
        I naively thought that anyone who had a child would naturally put that kid at the top of their priorities list, and that naturally meant ahead of their own interests.  It's just not reality, it's just not true.
        Sounds like your mom and mine had some things in common, but mine had the added quality of being actively cruel, and enjoying it.  Hard thing to say about your own mom, but it's true.
        I don't know if your mom actually meant to be cruel, but it really doesn't matter, does it?  The fact is, she WAS cruel.  Because you needed her so badly, and she was unable to care for you.
        That's the key to your peace of mind, though, and to being able to forgive her, plf515.  She just didn't have it in her.  
        It's not that she chose to withhold her love, she just couldn't focus away from herself long enough.  I guess in the long run you've proven your own strength, haven't you?  You got through a very difficult childhood and came out the other end a good person.  Give yourself the appreciation and admiration you deserve.  You had to "be your own Mom" for a long time, didn't you?  
        Hugs for you, and I wish for you a smoother road.

        •  Yeah, I've grown up a bit (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          LOTS of therapy - about half my life

          At the same time, my mom did start a school for me...

          A strange person, she is; you are right, she is not capable of being other than she is.  She reminds me a lot of the mother in Ordinary People, with a bit of Felix Unger from the Odd Couple thrown in.

          Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

          by plf515 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:17:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It makes you wonder..does she sense (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            her own deficiencies?  And if she does, does it make her unhappy?  
            My dad abused his four kids horrendously (and I do mean horrendously) right from the start.  And yet, and yet..there was only one thing he was ever afraid of, and that was tornadoes.  And one day, when he and his grown daughter were caught in a tornado, outside, he threw her down at the base of a tree and covered her with his own body.  
            Hardly anyone is ever wholly dark or wholly light.  We're all these uneasy mixtures of both, always struggling to find..what?  Ascendency of one or the other?  Or at least a balance?

            •  I have no idea (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              one of the things I did to preserve my sanity is, early on, decide that I wasn't really all that interested in her.

              No one is all bad.  But my own defense is to not try to pry into what of her is bad and good, and what she recognizes in herself.  If she were not my mother, she isn't a person I'd like to know.  So I try not to.

              OTOH, she never abused me as your dad did you.  She was simply incapable of giving me what I needed - and not simply because I was learning disabled - she is also incapable with my siblings.  e.g. She has NEVER told ANY of us "I love you"

              Statistical consultant - homepage on my user page

              by plf515 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:55:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Sympathy, plf515 (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            redmcclain, sherlyle, plf515

            I was terrified by Mary Tyler Moore's portrayal of the mother in Ordinary People.  Every insecurity I ever had in life was brought out during the movie.  I cried the entire time.  But to think of adding Felix Unger into the mix is too scary to even contemplate.  

            "Man's life's a vapor Full of woe. He cuts a caper, Down he goes. Down de down de down he goes.

            by JFinNe on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:51:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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