"Success is not measured by what you accomplish, but by the opposition you have encountered, and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds." - Orison Swett Marden

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Moving Forward As A Mother Destroyed ...What About My Children?"

This was initially written on February 25, 2015 as a 'piece of expression', or journal entry. Today I have expounded and concluded it. It is in braving strong fears that I come forward with some of the content I am revealing...

I didn't want to face the day this morning. Overcoming that dread is more often a challenge than I'd like to admit. I dragged myself out of bed, well, the sofa this morning, because I didn't even have the motivation to get up and go TO bed last night. And then I sort of meandered a tad before I determined to make something to eat and get coffee. When I made the decisions to take action on those, I took control to start my day, rather than remain on the sofa, mostly sleeping and then too feeling hopeless and defeated.

Instead I'm here writing. A skill I am fairly good at. Not stellar. I'm also decent at teaching something I've learned or taught myself. And above-average-good at persuasion. This made me a very good salesperson. However I cannot seek my best interest at the expense of another's, because of conscientiousness, empathy and compassion. This would be integrity -"selling ice to an Eskimo" would not be a job that I could ethically do. Having a purpose, or the lack-thereof, is largely the issue with dragging myself out of bed in the morning.

Last night I was in angst to join my friend Diana. Diana took her life a little more than a year ago. She suffered from a particular type of mental illness that plagued her with incessant and persistent fears and doubts surrounding concepts she had little control over in this mental environment. No amount of internal work to build a life would have done the trick for her, it was external circumstances she had no control of or way to overcome. These prevented her from obtaining the best and most efficient or effective treatment. Constant mental suffering composed her life. There was no overcoming these barriers to treatment and healing. May be had the external factors been available to her, achievable for her, she could have succeeded in healing her mental health / illness. She had multiple times in her life previously made every effort and attempt to do so, with no lasting change and results. She truly did all that she could do and brought an end and peace to her life, with the absolute last resort.

My ex-significant-other pleaded with me to consider my children in this scenario. I brought up the gloomy reality; how can my children give a shit about me, they don't give a shit about themselves? I can't lead them TO water, let alone of course, make them drink. This is because, while it's severe to say, the situation is such that the challenges my children face, I can be of no help to them, and likely will never be able to be a source of help to them. Even in the few cases where my children might entertain the idea that something they're doing requires change (as it's the origin of a particular difficulty in their life), they are satisfied believing change is as achievable as making it a statement. To promise the change, at the begging, pleading, or all around grief of themselves or those that love the individual, would be making what is called a 'false promise'.

This means the same thinking which created a problem won't solve it. Even when an individual wants to stop the grief and misery, their best intentions aren't enough. If they are honest about the mess that surrounds their life, then it's required that they too be honest about the thinking and behaviors that made it that way. The want for change, the hope for change will likely never be enough. It becomes necessary to treat the thinking errors and distorted perceptions which from out of, he / she is creating their life. Without treating and changing those, 'installing' a better, functional, operating program, it's like running glitchy virus-tainted software. Until you REMOVE and REPLACE those cognitive and perceptual distortions, the promise to stop or change is called a 'False Promise' for regardless of well meaning intentions, without the tools and skill sets to follow through, almost eminently change will be unsuccessful.

Every last person that struggles with and suffers from maladaptive thinking errors and distorted perceptions had elements of 'predisposing factors'. These are dysfunctional events or circumstances that began early in life and continued - they are part of what created the patterns of behaviors. Divorced parents, abuse, unhealthy relationships, the list can be detailed and lengthy. Identifying these helps to reveal the 'map' that an individual traveled, that took them to where they're at now. Without understanding how they arrived at their destination, they're likely to be inept and unable to change the course of that destination.

Tools and skill sets. These are essentially the 'new software' to start running. Implementing them is like 'installing' that software. "If you always do what you've always done, then you're going to get what you've always gotten". That might sound stupidly obvious. And yet, insanely, this is how one keeps themself stuck in the repetition of maladaptive behaviors. Without change that is. You've got to learn / know what to do and how to do it in order to bring that change, and of course, stick with it. That's what you learn, the 'tools and skill sets' to apply, so that once you've identified and understand the patterns of thinking and behaviors that kept you in a destructive cycle, you develop healthy thinking and ways with which to run your life.

My children were introduced to drugs by their father when they were nine and eleven years of age. Just before that time he chose to have me put in prison, under the guise that I was to be held accountable for my past wrong-doing. A viable crime as the law is written, had been committed by me eleven years prior, of which he was a victim. To what degree and how he was victimized he extensively confabulated. And the end result of having me do prison time - removing me from parenting my children, was not because, I was treacherously perpetrating atrocities, requiring to be stopped. What it was about becomes more and more evident as the long and twisted truth is dug up and exposed. One discovers I am not the only wrong-doer, just the only one taking responsibility. That willingness combined with this family's narcissistic dynamics, positioned me ideally for a scapegoat.

Discrediting and eliminating me was a necessary part to achieving his goals. I would need to be a monster (that very label has been stamped on me, labels are for identifying contents, I am not an article or container). I would need to pay him child-support. His power and control along with everything that was already to his advantage, was misused. Including his not just bending the truth, but out right lying. Clearly not any thought of the children, the impact of such consequences on them, was given any attention. While my children stayed with foster-grandparents during my incarceration, he avoided the heavy and confining responsibilities of raising two young children, of which whose lives up to this point in time he had put little investment in at all. Then, in a matter of a few weeks before I was to return home from serving my two year sentence, he filed an 'emergency custody order' to take the children from me, making him the sole custodial parent. Co-habitating with his father, he was permitted to live freely of the responsibility of living expenses, in exchange for covering his and the children's expenses in food. And this area as well, the children have suffered his neglect.

As long as the children take care of their 'chores', staying out of trouble, he practices a 'hands off approach'. Not looking to be saddled with inconveniences (responsibilities), in his care the children have been free to roam with little to no parental guidance or supervision; failing grades, getting through schooling by the skin of their teeth, truancy, living at the houses of friends for days and weeks at a time, drug use / addiction, run-ins with law enforcement / criminal behavior, the detriment of consequences runs on. He is both verbally abusive and belligerent as well as physically. He behaves as a menace and a bully (interestingly he prides himself in being an MMA fighter). He refuses to seek counseling or treatment, and despite in the past having being court mandated too, has not obtained counseling for the children.

His bullying has been horribly destructive to my children and me / our family, I validly fear him, for years now. If I speak not of these things / stay silent, -it's like 'tapping out' - he'll let me lay, won't do further punishment. If I speak out -he and his family will continue taking a hostile approach, scapegoating me for the wrong I have stood accountable for, -faulting me for his wrong-doing. The family has a blind allegiance to it's own, it's as simplistic as maintaining they have no fault of which to be culpable. They are bullies in their own right, in this manner I have taken their punishment, 'behaved', sat quiet, at their destruction of my children / me / our family / our lives. Some of the individuals were more involved than other family members at the detriment -but all have contributed by not holding him accountable for what are his own responsibilities, wrong and even illegal behaviors.

My children were not treated respectfully by the men that took over the care for them and away from me. In addition, those men, their father and grandfather, display distinctly traits of narcissism; in their self-perceptions they are wonderful people, doing a wonderful job, trying to do their best when those around them are the problem and the reason why the good things don't materialize (they take no culpability for their actions, as in their perspective they do no wrong -it is always justifiable as due to the fault of others). My children were / are not treated with respect, they are treated as problems. They are not helped to find the strength and confidence in themselves to identify what are their problems, let alone how to approach and overcome them. They're shown by example to not look within, but to find excuses and put blame on people and things. Naturally my children do not see the abuse they need to be protected from. They will protect their abusers: Stockholm Syndrome, they will stand up for and make excuses for their abusers.

This was the third time my eldest has attempted to come live with me. Well, it's not living with me he's seeking, it's when 'push comes to shove' out of the chaos and dysfunction that is present in his residence 'over there'. As well as his life in general where his apathy and drug use exacerbate the very misery he's seeking to avoid. Naturally, though providing him an environment with consistency, guidance, unconditional love (not absent of conditions of rules, boundaries and limitations) and accountability -the long history of dysfunction (predisposing factors) and it's affect on his psychological / mental health, keep him from being able to work within maintained boundaries and expected responsibilities. He adamantly refuses the need for help with drug addiction and abuse and balks at the most basic practices of healthy living / choices. He begins to blame me for anything and everything as 'the problem' (wonder where he learned that from?) and we can't even get to square one.

This leads me to where I began this story.... waking up on the sofa. Yesterday my son had handled something in such a way that I had concern for a 'red flag'. Just before he got out of the car when I was dropping him off at school, he told me not to pick him up, that the wifi in school didn't work well (for him to Voxer me what was going on). He would have someone take him to his dad's where I would pick him up and his mattress that we were getting. He told me he would call me from there. He shut the door and left. I know my son, with drug-use thinking, he will orchestrate opportunities to go use. This certainly hinted of that kind of orchestration. Since I knew 1:00 is the time he typically gets dismissed from school, I wanted to be there when he came out so that I could speak with him. I was there at 1:00 and waited for 20 minutes and then sent him a Voxer, explaining I was not happy how he let me know of this as he was getting out of the car, where I couldn't speak with him further. I wasn't a taxi. I'm already committing to picking him up m-f at 1:00 from school, taking him to work Saturday thru Wednesday at 4 or 5 then picking him up at 9 or 10, I'm certainly not doing this to enable him so that he can continue using drugs. When he called me from his dad's to pick him up, I wanted to talk about this. He was defensive, siting he was not high, or had used and therefor saw me as the one in the wrong.

Often our conversations are like high-wire balancing acts..... every step I take has to be so precise and careful, it is incredibly precarious. One wrong move and he's lost. Now this is my son -not a friend. It's not my job to save anyone. But it is joyfully my responsibility to do everything I can, to work with and help my son, my child / children. When it comes to trust and pot smokers, my ex significant-other's behaviors and lies have so malignantly violated my TRUST that I lost the patience and thus ability to maintain the great feats of focus required for communication with my son. It was like that wound of injury was compromised and in that instant our communication was lost, I couldn't reach him. He turned verbally belligerent, that could not be ignored. I couldn't salvage it, he couldn't stop worsening things. It just turned ugly.

And that was it. He left my home and with it my care - there's no longer the circumstances to provide opportunity to help him. I cannot reach my children. Even having the opportunity to reach them is golden. Angry, heartbroken, standing by watching the tragedy unfold since his 'father' put me in prison, broke up our family and demolished their lives.... the outcome isn't much different than I guessed it would be back in 2007 (when I was sent to prison / the forced abandonment of me on my children).

My children were not raised seeing the men in their life serve as examples as how to treat women respectfully. Not to mention the character annihilation a narcissist will inflict on his scapegoat. My sons' picture of who I am and the mother I was to them has been overhauled with a multi-faceted approach and brain-washing spanning years. And similar to their lack of awareness and understanding of their own victimization and abuse by these people, they don't recognize any of it for what it is, how it took place. My sons weren't just removed from me in a physical existence, but just as cruelly and uncaring emotionally and psychologically as well. Their father and grandfather, very consistent with narcissistic traits, are too consumed looking after their own best interests, distracting them from those of the children's. Having undermined me so perniciously and completely, there is no wonder that my children have no kind of relationship with their mother. Thanks to the handiwork of these adults in their lives, our children don't know how either to respect themselves, their Mum, nor any of the other adults which should be responsible for their care and upbringing.

The truth is, and the fact remains; my children need me and I need my children, our family begs to be restored and healed. Returned to a family, built into a loving, healthy unit. The Stockholm Syndrome, dysfunction, the solipsistic mindset of narcissism, etc., too many barriers they are not even aware of, let alone understanding the need to overcome them with help or treatment. Without treatment / learning the skill sets for change that is needed, there is little to no hope for them to overcome their addictions or navigate a happy fulfilled life. There is no example set for them by the people they choose to follow, there is no teacher they will seek to lead them. They stay so far and clear away from anything remotely conducive to healthy, what could possibly wake them up, alert them to take notice? They have to be shown this and understand it. How's that going to happen? Who's going to or even be able to take that on? Yet, OUR FAMILY MUST BE RESTORED. MUST BE RESTORED. RESTORED. Problem - Solution -  Application -  Results

I 'rolled up my sleeves' and did the dirty work of self-introspection, taken responsibility and ownership of myself, my actions, their impact, to face the role I played and how I created what was a mess of a life. (Incidentally, narcissistic-types, who often need 'you' to be wrong, so that they can justify, excuse and deny any of their own wrong, will not accept your accountability and consequential apology... any finger of blame needs to point AWAY from them, TO a villain, all the better). This led me to work hard and long at both learning and utilizing tools and skill sets. I now live and exemplify (live by example) those personal responsibilities, observe and respect healthy, appropriate boundaries of 'self to others' and 'others to self'. This requires a conscious choice. It also has strengthened me to stand up to abuse / abusers.

I have done all that I can do. Something has to give with the circumstance outside of / external to me. Income / ability to care for myself, solid / healthy people for help / support and to be 'there'. The few people involved in my life are individuals with their own hefty set of dysfunctions. One that can and does put effort into seeing and changing life for the better -it is a slow process. And another that has not yet overcome denial which keeps old patterns repeating themselves. Moving forward requires the support of healthy and functional people. External (outside of myself and my control) circumstances must be made available and achievable to me, so that I can bring lasting change and results. For building my own life, to assist my children in building their own lives, and ultimately healing from destruction of our family.

With little to no ability or control over the barriers which are outside of me, I am prevented from building a life. I have a purpose, but no way to fill it. It is the living day to day in a barely-able-to-exist or survival state in which I feel I am like Diana. Diana had no means or resources to her available or achievable in the building of a life -she experienced constant, ceaseless suffering. She brought peace to herself by the last resort - ending her life. To me going to the other side is 'returning home'. I have no (means to create) purpose here. Under the right circumstances -not just perceived, but ACTUAL- ending life in such a situation, is not a 'bad' thing. Would I choose otherwise, yes! 

Last resort? No, it's not. Regardless, I pull up the boot-straps, put one foot in front of the other, take one step at a time. Despite the very desperate and bleak life handed to my mother (covered in previous posts), I have to credit her for she forged through. She hung in there. And I will do more than merely 'hang in there'. I recognize that I lead my children, even if only in their subconscious awareness. No matter how bleak or desperate life appears or is in actuality, I personally can't get to the end of it without having given it my all. I'm still working on that, and I choose to be an example of that for my children. They are everything that matters here on this Earth to me. My conscience drives me to be a humanitarian and good steward of this Earth.