Saturday, July 21, 2012

A quick post about my Mother

Since Sarah put up my spanking post this week, I thought I would write a few words about my mother and our relationship. Because I don't want people to assume by default that I am one of those who still has a terrible relationship with my mother, or that she is one of the mothers who refuses to admit she did anything wrong.

Because I recently switched blogs, some of this will be redundant to my previous followers. But to recap:

Originally, I had always felt that making a child expose their bottom for a spanking was abusive and cruel. I believed that for as long as I can remember. So my first decision when I had children was that I would never do that. Also that I would never spank them with a belt, or a wooden rod. I believed that those instruments fell more into the category of "beating." And I remember a time when my mother felt that way, too, which is why she rarely used them until we were older. Past the point of showing our butts for a spanking.

Her argument was that you couldn't make enough of an impression through clothing, and I quickly discovered that to be true. So I was faced with a dilemma. Do I hit my children with a bigger stick, or find another form of punishment? Humiliating them sexually by removing their clothing was never an option for me, and the fact that punishment and discipline were not synonyms had not yet become clear to me.

Because of my husband's abusive past, and because I knew that the cycle often repeats, I was very nervous about introducing any significant weapon for hitting. With the boys still being toddlers, I just quit punishing them for a while. They weren't at an age where their acting out could really accomplish much anyway. I could afford to ignore their behavior, and I was overwhelmed with DH's drug issues anyway.

So my boys went largely neglected for a couple of years. It is my belief that the combination of neglect and tremendous household stress, NOT my lack of spanking, is the reason for their unmanageability today. My mother still disagrees. It doesn't help that my youngest brother, the least spanked out of all her children, is by far the most unmanageable and downright offensive in his behavior towards our mother. So of course, between him and my boys, my whole family feels we have just proved why spanking is so important. I continue to disagree. And I believe time will prove me right. I believe their mistake is looking for the quick fix, and not waiting for adulthood to call the results.

Still, my mother has apologized for many of her harsher punishments. She feels terribly guilty for many things, but that doesn't mean she always agrees with us on exactly where she was wrong. She was under a tremendous amount of stress from my MIL, and pressure from her cult leader, which she deserves a lot of credit for standing up under as much as she did. Had it been left to that person, our punishments would have been more severe, and far more often. More like the stories I hear from other children who came out of fundamentalist families.

When I interviewed with the counselors who are seeing my boys, they asked what parenting skills I felt I had learned from my mother. I always mention the fact that she encouraged reading and forbade TV, the fact that she was a very skilled teacher, very organized, and that she and my dad never argued in front of us. Also it occurred to me how valuable it was to me, as a mother, that she breastfed all of us and encouraged us to do the same. Her political involvement, and the fact that she was able to teach us music, were also valuable assets to her parenting. We don't easily fall for rhetoric and mob mentality.

I often feel that I learned more of what NOT to do than what TO do, but that is because my life has turned out in ways that bring out the things lacking in my upbringing. Had I not met DH, or his mother, and gone on to become either a single woman or married a man who believed much like they do (unlikely since I loathed men), I probably would still believe the same things I did when I first had children: Spanking is necessary, but humiliation is not. Having to question SOOOO much of what I was taught growing up has made me dig a lot deeper than I would otherwise have done.

You know those FaceBook posts that keep going around about spanking? Well I have one. I'm just not ready to put it out there yet. It goes like this:

"Yeah, I was molested as a child. It didn't destroy my life. I didn't grow up to be a prostitute, drug addict, or child molester myself. I never slept with - or even kissed - anyone but my spouse. I'm a fully functional human being and perfectly capable of raising my own kids. 'Like' this if you were molested as a child and turned out fine."
Except nobody would ever dare to like this. Why? Because, as any fool can see, the mere fact that something did not destroy you DOES NOT BY DEFAULT MAKE IT OKAY!!!!!

And lest I offend a victim of child sexual abuse, the above statement is actually true. Of me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

About that Other Woman

Well, I started seeing a counselor and found one for the kids. We have our first family meeting tonight. Saw DH on Sunday afternoon, but it wasn't much of a visit. Since it was in the hospital cafeteria, I thought I'd be able to buy lunch there. So we went straight up from church. Bad idea. We couldn't buy anything, the boys were starving, and between hunger, stress, and sitting for 2.5 hours already, they were pretty rammy. DH was coming down with the flu too. We left soon and hopefully this weekend will be better.

My MIL has been on a mission to prove that all his drug problems started AFTER he left home, and keeps talking to me about it. I am really sick of it. Ultimately I could give a rat's ass what she thinks, I know what I know. But it bothers me because I know it will have a major impact on his recovery, or lack thereof. She spent the first week he was away crying to me every day about how hard this is for her. I told her she should join a grief counseling group, trying to hint that I am not free to be her crutch now that he isn't leaning on me. It seemes to have escaped her. She spent the second week talking with me about his childhood (those conversations were mutual) and how we can get help for him at this point. But at some point she remembered that he was supposed to have had the perfect life with her, because she is the perfect mother, and that led to her lashing out at me on Sunday over the phone after my visit.

For anyone who started with this blog, she is another bipolar one. Or something of the sort. And she was very abusive to her children, particularly DH as her oldest, as well as to me and my brothers when we were growing up. She never physically abused me, although I remember a few instances of outrageous verbal abuse that my mother really should have put a stop to. She whipped at least one of my younger brothers severely, though, because he interrupted a brutal beating she was giving to her third son. He couldn't stand the cries any more. And she lashed out at my second brother once when he acted like a complete jackass at her house, and went on for DAYS (I kid you not) about how stupid and ill-mannered and worthless he was. So nothing will ever convince me that she was anything approaching a decent mother. Whatever.

But I bit my tongue while she ranted on about what a Negative Nancy I am, how I always focus on the bad, I can never see any good, DH was HAPPY!!! when he lived with her, HAAAAPPYYYYY do you hear me? and he loved going to work every day from 16 years old on and supporting his family and making a decent contribution to the household like a real man should, learning skills that would have been all he needed in life if he didn't throw it all away for that college education that put him into drugs and ruined his life. And SHE was THERE, you see, SHE was THERE when he came home from work and talked about all he was learning and was so enthusiastic about his work, I certainly wasn't there and have no idea what I'm talking about, I just keep ignoring the real issue which is DRUGS and SIN!

Sure, bitch. Except you forgot one very important thing, see. I WAS there. Oh, not at your dinner table. Nothing would have persuaded me to eat dinner with you once my mother wasn't there to force me. But I was there in the evenings, hanging out in the basement with him, listening to you nag him like that continual dropping on a rainy day about all the chores you needed done. Because it wasn't enough that he went to work all day to pay the mortgage on that house you wanted. He was supposed to do the laundry and mow the grass and clean the bathrooms too. I was there the night he hurt his back, so badly that he screamed when I tried to rub it while he laid on the floor. And all you did all evening was call down to see when the laundry would be done. Yeah. That's how much you cared. Unfortunately, YOU were THERE, and small wonder that he is now here.

I tried to keep my cool, even apologized for upsetting her, and tried to point out that this is what bipolar disorder does. He has a split personality. She and I saw opposing sides of the same coin. But it was hardest when she kept talking about the fact that he had dreams and goals when he left home, and what happened to all THAT? Drugs, that's what. And I bit my tongue harder, reminding myself how much the boys need her right now (and that she will take out her anger on them if I upset her). Because I know exactly what happened. I watched it happen, the night she called him on the phone and told him that she was leaving his stepdad. We had just started planning our wedding and set a date. And he laid on his bed and stared at the ceiling, and cried for a long time, and worried, and within a few weeks he had decided to move back home and keep holding everyone together like he always had. And I was heartbroken and horrified at the prospect, but I went along like a moron.

Yes, I know what happened to those dreams, and it wasn't drugs. His mother happened, as usual. With all her drama and selfishness and manipulation. And I meant it when I told her that she ruined my marriage before it ever got started. She ruined it when she allowed him to believe that he, not her, was responsible for the well-being of the family. And since her drama always happens when someone else is getting attention (like our wedding date being set), it's hard to believe that she didn't do it on purpose. But logic tells me that she didn't, not consciously. She just thinks that way. Always.

Still, after I hung up, I thought about the bipolar thing, and I started to really get upset. I hadn't thought about it before. But I remember all the times I tried to convince him to spend some of his "good days" with us, feeling so hurt that after all I gave up to help him through the depression and withdrawal, he would never give any of it back. As soon as he was over it (probably because he found some more drugs, looking back) he went off with friends or his brothers. I was never invited. When I started inviting myself, I felt deeply unwanted and awkward. He would look for ways to avoid me or point out my poor social skills. I have to wonder at this point if I really have any reason at all to believe that he wasn't cheating on me. Probably with random girls, not a relationship, but still. I did suspect a couple of times because of comments other people made.

Back to the issue, though. I had always assumed that the happiness he showed to his family was fake, and they were too ignorant to see through it. I had never thought that maybe both seemed equally real to him. And even if he couldn't help it, that still hurts. All those times I just wanted him to be happy, and did everything I could - even things I really didn't want to do - to make it happen. And he never was. Not with me. The happiness was for elsewhere.

Of course, the drugs have to have played a huge part in that too. I didn't participate, but I was aware he used them, and disapproving. And they were what made him happy (temporarily), so he couldn't be with me when he was happy because he was also high. But that brings us back to the original point, how long he has been using the drugs; and good luck convincing the Other Mother of that. If she won't believe it after he has repeatedly told her so, nothing I say will matter.

The more I remember what our marriage has been like, the less I feel justified in hoping for a future with him. I don't believe we are good for each other any more. I KNOW he isn't good for me. And I have serious questions about whether I should keep trying to prop up my MIL. I can look back and see the pattern he followed with me, which was the same pattern she followed with him; and I realized on Sunday that if I am not very careful, she will pick up the thread of abuse where he left off, and replace him as my burden to carry. I am not going to let that happen. She is back to giving the kids a bunch of stuff, and offering us a ride to visit this weekend, which I really can't think of a good reason to say no to since it's a long drive and we are both going anyway. But I am definitely on guard now. If I have to push her aside or away in order to be a good mother, I will. I have no emotional ties to her like I did to DH, that I should justify being her crutch instead. And I will be watching like a hawk to make sure she doesn't do it to the kids.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

So much for that

Well, to make a long story short, DH seemed to basically go crazy the weekend before last, and spent 6 days at the psychiatric hospital. From there he has been transferred to detox, and he won't be coming home when he gets out. Here is the long story:

On Wednesday he stole a credit card and money from his dad's house, which he used to buy gas and cigarettes and a bunch of drinks and lunches at the convenience store. I know he has kleptomaniac tendencies, and has been really bitter about his family since the celebration. But his absolute refusal to admit it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, disturbed and frustrated all of us.

I have come to realize that my dislike of his family, and refusal to interact with them except when necessary, is beneficial to DH in lying to all of us. So I have been making an effort to communicate more with them. He seemed to grow more and more enraged as he came up with different excuses and I debunked them based on what his dad and brother said. After a while I stopped arguing because he looked like he wanted to simply beat his version of events into my head. His dad called the police and reported the theft, only because he felt like the lack of consequence is now doing DH more harm than good.

I was certain he was on something, and I didn't trust him to drive the neighbor's car. So I dropped him off at work on Thursday and went to the clinic. I begged to see his counselor. She saw me, but said she couldn't tell me anything because he did not sign a release form. She said she would ask him to sign one Friday, but wouldn't be back in until Monday.

Because of the violent attitude he was displaying, I was very concerned and did not want him to pick up the kids after work on Friday. He left after telling me that if he ever caught me visiting his dad with the kids, we were divorced and he would take the kids. Yeah, right. I told him if that was the case it was time to get divorced anyway, and after all those years of going through hell because I didn't want to keep the kids from their relatives, I wasn't going to let him make them a tool for revenge. I also told him the reason he was still willing to visit his mom was that he could usually bully her into believing him. I went to my weekend job. He stopped in to see me after work and seemed coherent enough. My family was already giving me the hairy eye about being asked to keep his kids from him, and I wasn't sure what to do. I have quit two jobs because of him, and I was determined not to give up another one. I called my sister and told her he seemed ok and she could let him take the kids. But my mom later said she had strong reservations about that when she saw him.

Saturday morning he went to a job interview. Before he left he gave me a few small white pills out of his wallet to keep for him, you know, being "100% honest" and all that bull. He said they were some type of Alprazolam or Lorazepam. I was extremely worried about the car, he was so irrational and disoriented. But I couldn't come up with a good plan for taking it from him. I found another pill on the floor where he had been laying and crying, so he had apparently palmed some. The baby was gagging on something next to it, and I was afraid she had swallowed one, but forgot.

I wanted to clean the house, but I was too upset and needed to be away. So I took the boys out grocery shopping. Mom kept the baby. He called me while we were checking out and said he nailed the interview. He also warned me not to spend too much on groceries, which made me want to reach through the phone and strangle him. He had already come up with a reason why his pay the night before was a few hundred less than expected.

I had called my friend from the train, who is a counselor and social worker, to find out if we could force him into detox. She said no, he needed to agree. I really didn't want to be near him any more. On my way to the next stop, his oldest brother called me. We rarely speak, so I was surprised. I was shocked, however, when I answered the phone and he was sobbing and asking me where DH was. I didn't know. He said DH had just called him and told him he was committing suicide that weekend.

I didn't know what to do except go home. When I got there, he was already there, having a complete breakdown in the driveway while my sister tried to calm him down. She had seen him crying in the car when he pulled up. He was telling her to get him a gun so he could end it all. She left when I got there. He went into the backyard and was telling me that he kept having vivid hallucinations of smashing the baby's head on our tile floor, and killing our oldest, and he had to kill himself before he hurt one of us. When he threw the picnic table across the patio I sent the boys up to Mom's.

There was no more question of leaving the kids with him. At least now I knew that my family knew this was really serious, being that they had witnessed part of it. I went to work, forgetting to mention the pill to my sister. He called me on the way over and said he had stolen something from my job the day before and wanted me to basically cover for him until he could return it. I told him if no one else said anything, I wouldn't. He did return a coin near the end of the day, after I called repeatedly to remind him. We later discovered he had stolen several more, however.

I guess my mom was right to worry about the neighbor's car. I was very worried too, but afraid of causing a bigger problem by taking the keys from him. I stayed late after work talking to a drug counselor who also worked weekends there. She stressed the importance of getting him to a hospital. When I got home, he wasn't back yet. I kept calling and calling, and eventually my sister came in and said he had pulled up. I gave the baby to my mom and went to check on him. She was acting very unhappy and disoriented, but I had forgotten all about the pill by now and assumed she was tired. He had found the money I hid and spent another big chunk of it. We were staying with my mom overnight, and he was very upset that I wasn't coming back down after putting the kids to bed, which I would have done in the past. But I had put everything into this last ditch effort with the methadone clinic, and it had failed. I didn't know what to do next, but I knew it didn't involve me trying to fix it yet again.

Princess Berry cried and cried and finally fell asleep, fretfully and not really eating well. He kept texting me and waking me up. Finally around 2AM he agreed to go to the hospital if I would promise to spend an hour having sex when we got back. I agreed. Whatever. I always tried to make him happy before, because ultimately he has some deep-seated idea that sex is all he is really good for. Childhood trauma no doubt. We went to the hospital, and he told me to fill out the intake card because he couldn't see without his glasses, and thinks his handwriting looks bad. It doesn't. But I put down exactly what I saw without asking his new opinion: Hallucinations, suicidal, irrational.

On the way to the room the guard mentioned to me that I would need to put his clothing and shoes in the car after he changed so that he wouldn't have access to the clothes. They took a blood and urine sample, and then we sat and waited. And waited. He wanted me to tell them his stories for why he had to get home, and I became worried that they might actually send him home. I went out and asked the nurse. She assured me they would not, they were just trying to buy time until the psychiatric intake opened. Eventually they told him in vague terms that he was headed to another area for further evaluation.

That evaluation was a decision whether or not to commit him for 72 hours, and they did. They also cited disturbing results from the tox screen: cocaine, amphetamine, and anti-anxiety meds in addition to the methadone. He became very agitated immediately, and there were a couple hours yet to go before the psychiatric building was open. I didn't want to leave because I knew he would feel like I just dumped him there. But he became so violent and threatening that eventually I had no choice.

The Princess was still miserable when I got home and my mom said she hadn't slept well. I remembered the pill, and hoped it was wearing off now after nearly 24 hours. I fed her again and put her down for another nap. I saw that the neighbor's car was busted on one side; it looked like he had hit or been hit by the back corner of a dump truck. Plus the hubcaps were torn up from scraping on curbs. That was very upsetting.

Meanwhile the calls from DH started. He was in the psychiatric unit, furious and irrational, threatening all sorts of ridiculous things when he got out (which he was sure would be any moment), etc. I started hanging up. I was exhausted, and on top of sleep deprivation I felt myself crashing emotionally from the strain of the past several years. For the first time ever, I knew he was somewhere safe and I didn't have to be worried any more. I felt like I was going to go comatose with relief.

She woke up worse than when she laid down, and I decided to take her to the hospital. My mom drove us. When they heard the story, they took 10 vials of blood and catheterized her for a urine sample, planted an IV after about 4 tries, took a complete set of x-rays, and did a CT scan of her head. I was starting to hate him by the time they were done. I think they were concerned about Shaken Baby Syndrome, given the hallucinations. He kept calling, and I tried to tell him what had happened but he refused to hear it. He scoffed at me for being so squeamish about a silly little pill. When he found out the hospital was worried, he became more concerned, but he had also been heavily sedated by that time due to his violent behavior. So that probably made him more rational.

We were there for two days. Family services interviewed us, of course. CPS decided not to open an investigation, but I was a bit relieved to know I had their backing in refusing to let him come back.

We came home to find the water heater leaking all through the kitchen ceiling. Lovely. That was changed the next day. I started packing his things, and FINALLY got a call from his social worker. Not returning one of my messages, but saying it was time to come and get him. I explained the situation, and she apologized for being unaware that he had been having homicidal hallucinations (?!?!) but assured me he was now rational and doing fine. I waved the CPS card high and loud, and she backed off, even though I suspected (and later confirmed) that the hospital had mistakenly contacted CPS in their state rather than ours. Next they called his mom and tried to bully her into taking him, but she stood to her guns about the family wanting him to go into detox. I will always be thankful for that. I called his counselor from the methadone clinic, where he had apparently signed a limited release form that allowed her to tell me the results of his urine tests and his status there (he was apparently in good standing and had been clean five tests in a row!), and tried to enlist her help.

They called the next day, since they couldn't convince anyone to take him, and said he had agreed to go to detox. Meanwhile I was watching his phone, and lo and behold, a dead man called. The Turd, who probably isn't such a turd after all. He was wanting to find out when he would get him money back from checks that had been stolen and written out to DH, which DH had blamed another person for and tried to convince him they would return it if he didn't press charges. I told him that DH had told us all he had passed away, which shocked him. He says he was never in the hospital at all. He asked if Whiz Kid was in the hospital with brain damage. Apparently DH had collapsed at work one day sobbing about "my son, my son, why does God hate me?" and said he had been pushed off the slide at school and suffered permanent head trauma.

That's when I really started to fall apart. I guess in the back of my mind I was prepared for everything else. I knew a drug-related breakdown of epic proportions was possible at some point, although I had hoped to avoid it. And I had been upset and hurt, but not surprised. This shocked me, though. I told his mom, and over the next couple of days forgotten incidents began coming together. I remembered all the times I had choked back my desire to accuse him of schizophrenia because I was so frustrated by his irrational way of doing things. I remembered that when he stopped sleeping upstairs with the baby, he had told me he was having nightmares about distorted faces in the skylights talking about him, watching him, and saying things like how foolish he was to think he could take care of us, and he should eliminate the baby while she was little and wouldn't know what was happening; and he would wake up terrified that he'd hurt her in his sleep. I should have taken that a lot more seriously. I guess I was so stressed out I wasn't making connections in my own head.

I called his counselor again and told her my fears. She said we should tell the social worker, which I did. She also said that DH had refused to discuss his childhood with her, although he was telling us that he was. And she said that it was often the case with mental disorders, that substance abuse can keep it low-key and undetected. So her take was basically that because he was getting clean, the real disorder was becoming apparent.

They sent him to a psychiatric hospital for detox, one that specializes in co-occurring disorders. I hope that means they are taking this seriously. He told me today they have diagnosed him with severe PTSD, which I could have told him he has - and did - many times before.

I feel I ought to get a divorce. I love him, with all my heart. He has been my entire life all through my adulthood and before. But I feel it would be extremely unwise to stay financially connected to someone I ultimately do not know. He is a stranger. One who needs my love and help, but so do my children. I can't allow him to take away what I should be giving them any longer. Our state does not recognize legal separation. If I am married, I am responsible for his debts, yet I cannot access any information about him, medically or financially, without his permission - which he never gives. I ought not live that way. It's foolish.

And besides, neither of us ever wanted this relationship as it is. I never wanted a sexual relationship; it was something I tolerated because I thought it was the only way to be in his life. And he never wanted a wife, just a girlfriend and mother figure. Maybe we will do each other, and our children, more good as friends than as spouses.