Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

He's breaking my heart a little at a time

Parenting a child with a mental illness is never easy. That's the understatement of the century. But there are times when it is so painful that I wonder how I can go on knowing that it will never change, there is no cure, it will always be hard. My heart seems to be chipping away with every act he does, no purposefully, but because he just doesn't 'get' how much pain he causes me. Nor does he much care. When I tell him that the hole in my heart has grown a bit larger, he blames me. It's always my fault because I don't listen, because I never admit I'm wrong, because it's just always ME that's in the wrong. That's how he sees it. But the truth of the matter is, although I'm far from perfect, it's hard to find much blame on anyone but himself for this latest caper.

Yesterday, after school, he called me and said he wanted to go over to his friend's house for a couple of hours. I reminded him that it was erev Rosh Hashona. He promised to be home by 5 pm, plenty of time to be ready to start the holiday. We had a back and forth and I made it abundantly clear that 5 pm was a deadline. There was no deviation. He must be home by 5. He agreed.

Of course, 5 came and went with no Boy. 6 came and went with no Boy. By 6:30 I was panicking. I couldn't make dinner until he was home, I had called the kid's house several times and nobody answered the phone, I had called all his friends, including the Girlfriend who doesn't live remotely close by, nobody knew where he was. 7 came and went with no Boy. I moved from angry to worried. What if he had been arrested or was in the hospital? Never one to be calm in a situation like this, my anticipatory anxiety was on high alert. At 7:30 I vowed to call the police if he wasn't home in a few minutes. By now he had totally ruined Rosh Hashona, we had no meal to eat, I was in no mood to have a conversation with God, and I was just beside myself with anger and worry and hurt.

At 8 he strolled in, saying "I'm sorry, I couldn't get a ride before now" like that was an excuse for not phoning. I would have arranged a ride. He could have taken a taxi or public transportation. I could have gotten him home. He didn't even bother to GET why I was so upset. And upset was just a nice word for seething anger. I was furious. I sent him to bed immediately with no dinner. He knew he had gone way over the edge because he went up with no argument. But he must have felt lousy because he went to sleep in my bed.

The Girl and I ate leftover chicken teriyaki wings. We snuggled. She knew how hurt I was. I felt as if not only was the Boy rejecting Judaism, which is par for the course with many adolescents brought up observantly, but he was rejecting me and my feelings about the holiday. I know that the Boy hates Judaism. Let's face it, the religion treated him like a dirty piece of crap. The organizations that we were a part of never even tried to understand and work with him, they just rejected him time and again. I don't blame for feeling angry. I'm angry too.

But my anger at organized religion does not remove my love of God or tradition or Judaism. I hate the organizations. I don't hate the religion. I love being Jewish. I'm extremely proud of my Jewishness, I love the religion, I love the holidays, I love the whole idea of being a Jew. So why my son trounces on a High Holiday like it has no meaning at all, my heart hurts. I feel as if he's not only rejecting Judaism, but he's rejecting me. It is very painful.

I know that because his bipolar disease often interferes with making good decisions, and adolescence isn't really helping in that direction as well, but I'm tired of making excuses for him and his bad behavior. I'm sick to death of apologizing for him and excusing him because he 'can't help it'. He can help much of his bad behavior. He just doesn't care to. His narcissism is strong, like most teens. Right now it's all about him. Last night, however, it was all about us, as a family, as a people, as a religion. He wrecked evev Rosh Hashona, and there isn't an excuse for that.

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Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I'm sorry about your struggles with your son. I'm sort of feeling the same way about mine lately. I can't imagine dealing with him for another ten years. Sometimes it just beats me down. Erm, that didn't help much did it?

13/9/07 8:11 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Actually, it does help. I often feel so alone because I read all these adorable cute things kids say and never get hear that there are other people in a similar position.

It's hard, isn't it?

13/9/07 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Kvetch said...

I know that your son's behavior is a function of his illness coupled with adolescense. It's intensified for him and for you. I'm so sorry. But snuggling with your daughter sounds like a delightful way to mend a bit, realize what you have, not what you don't, and celebrate the beginning of the new year.

The cutesie kid/spouse posts get to me too.

Shana Tova.

13/9/07 10:59 PM  
Blogger JaniceNW said...

You know my oldest isn't cute at all! I was thinking almost exactly what you wrote about. Am I stuck with this person I don't recognize, don't like, and hate "dealing" with HIS issues all the time?

I'm sorry he was so disrepectful about the holiday and your need to celebrate. HUGS!

14/9/07 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Rhea said...

So sorry to hear about your Rosh Hashanah. I feel for you and your boy.

14/9/07 8:22 AM  
Blogger M said...

Do you NAMI, the organization? Is there a chapter in your area? They may know of some resources to help you with your issues with your son. They have been of some help to my family.

15/9/07 6:32 AM  
Blogger Reflekshins said...

tough stuff for sure but a necessary and valuable part of growing up. How can one truly understand empathy and goodwill without being on the other end of it first. These are the lessons we learn as young mean and women to the chagrin of others

16/9/07 7:56 PM  

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