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no way out
May 12, 2001
7:17 pm
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ct2001
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Where to begin. (Background) Born to alcoholic parents, violently abusive father, didn't know mother--left w/ another man at age 4. Separated from 2 sisters (who were later sexually abused by grandmother's live-in). Shuffled through foster homes, the last was aunt at age 5. Uncle despised me, "controlled alcoholic" (weekends). Described as an introverted , troubled youth. Dropped out of HS @ 17, went in service. Too young and got in much trouble but eventually got out w/ honorable discharge and GED.
Met girl who appeared to love me. Married her for security. Got B.S in English (nights then days). She divorced me 14 years later for just cause (uncommunicative, angry, depressed). No kids--didn't want them.

(More recent) Dated and married a divorced women from work w/ daughter. Daughter now 19. Love/hate relationship. Wanted a family life I never had. Wife bore a son, now 14. I worked butt off w/ 3 jobs and got an M.S. Info Mgt. Wife caught shoplifting twice (once w/ kids). Still uncommunicative and depressed.

(Most recent) 4 years ago, wife said wanted a divorce. I suggested marital counselling. She noted she didn't love me. Devestated me. But knew the life my kids would face w/ divorce so I said stay together. A few days later, ahamed, she disclosed an affair w/ former classmate. Devestating. More uncommunicative and depressed. Job, psyche, home life has been spiralling downward ever since. The only reason I get up each day and go to work is for my son. Been to 3 counselors trying to figure a way out of this mess that won't mess kids up. Had tried Zoloft, Prosac, Zyprexa for depression. Nothing helps. Tired of telling this story. Counselling doesn't work.

(Today) Came back from business trip to UK to learn my precocious son (great looking, appears 18 or 20, is 14) has been drinking and doing "weed." Says he stopped. Came home from work after a short day (9 hours--generally work 60+ per wk. to keep kids in Nike sneaks and Oakley suglasses). Stepdaughter refused to let me sit on couch to eat supper. (I only work and sleep now--don't even want to see friends). Began to get irritated. Sat down anyway, argument escalated, I lost it. Daughter called me a stupid a..hole. Enraged, I threw the milk I was drinking in her face. Refilled glass, she called me it again. Did the same. Son became involved. Heated words. Family left home.

I left and spent night in motel. Came back next eve. no one here. Kids refuse to be home with me. Son living with kid that provided the booze and drugs. I'm opposed but the only way to get him out is with the police. Daughter with father. Neither loves me. Now wondering why I do what I do for them. They accused me of failing to show an interest in their lives. But a while ago I asked whether they would prefer new Nike sneakers or me attending their activities. Guess which one they preferred. Not happy, very tired. Sorry for length, even left out a lot.

May 13, 2001
12:04 pm
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lisa78640
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Dear ct2001

woow, you have been threw alot. Well a least you are still trying. Most parents would have given up on their children by now. I can understand why you have been depressed for so long. It seem to me that you have a lot of feelings you haven't dealt with from you childhood. If you have it is time to let it go. My father always believed that as long as he put a roof over my head and food in my stomach and clothes on my back he was doing his job. Unfortunatley that is not the case. I wish I had less things and more of his time. It would have been nice to have him see me perform in high school or even see me perform in junior high. He didn't try to become interested in my life until I was out of school and on my way to college. Don't get me wrong I understand that he loves me I just wished he just said, once even. I have never heard my father tell me that he loves me. I guess he suspects that I just know, and I do. Maybe getting the police involved with your son will be the hardest step but it will show him how much you care and love him. If he doesn't relize it now, he will later and thank you for it later. Maybe commiting him to a rehab hospital will do you both a great service. They can help him relize what a loving father he has. Maybe you should ever try telling him how much you love and care for him. Don't be affaid to cry in front of him. Don't be affaid to let him now how much you care. Do you care for your step - daughter?? If you do tell her. What ever happened to your wife??? You don't mention her at the end, you just say gone. I know that there is a bigger plan for everyone so I know that there is a bigger plan for you. Do you belive in God??? Have you tried church??? Try prayer??? You may ever try meditation??? Some of these things will help you relax. Once you relax you may be able to see things a little clearer. I am willing to listen if you are willing to talk. You said you left out alot do tell. And you know the reason you did all those things for them, It's because you love them.
lisa

May 14, 2001
7:07 am
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janes
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so you see what some of the problems are....

You would be hard to trust...kids always say they want things more than us....

My advice, quit two jobs, find a counselor and start rebuilding.

It may take years before you reach the kind of relationships you want.

YOu are not the only person wronging someone here....

But the material things you have provided your family have not succeeded in giving you what you are searching for...namely stable loving relationships. since it didn't work it seems time to change....

I'm serious about the counselor....work on you.

Over time your two kids may change their attitude about you as you change your attitude about yourself.

There is a lot of "water under the bridge" here.

Words they say and words you say may not hold alot of meaning for anyone.

YOU need to happy with you. You have to many issues from your cvhildhood and your life to continue on in this same way....deal with these issues to make the rest of your life different.

It's a choice you need to make. To go on as you have been or seek a different way.

You are not a hopeless case at all... but to regain what you have lost may not be what you need....

I'd say rebuilding what can be might be a better goal...a fuure where your family learns you care enough to figure out how to be content and satisfied and filling your emotional needs and connecting with your family without checkbook in hand.

Good luck.

May 14, 2001
7:10 am
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janes
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P.S. MIlk in your step daughters face?

Rude...but 15 years ago she would;ve been backhqanded without a second thought.

sone smoking pot and drinking? Maybe you should let the school know he may have a substance abuse prob.

Wife cheating....

Find yourself a counselor and ask about family therapy.

If they refuse to go which will probly happen...don't take it personally just get started on you.

May 14, 2001
1:56 pm
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Molly
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there is always a way out, but you must really be willing to get out, no pun inteneded. It sounds like you shut down, so much to process, just started to go through the motions of life, so many men demonstrate their love in providing. Not that its wrong, its just that every one is still empty. I bet you have lots of repressed anger, no doubt you tossed the milk, don't beat your self up over it, like Janes said, few years ago, would have been the back of your hand. Its going to take time, lots and lots of time and effort on your part, I think that Janes suggestion of self focus is right on. No matter what you do with or for the family at this point, my guess is it won't be the right thing or enough. Like wild selfish self centered horses they are. So, do the work,think about one on one therapy, some anger work, when you start to allow your self to feel, anger is going to be right there, and the rage ... Well who can blame you, but do the work right. Anything has to be better than this right?

May 14, 2001
9:30 pm
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ct2001
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Thanks for responding Lisa, Janes, and Molly. You all seem like really nice folks, and I'll think about what you've said. It seems that everything I start to write is just so much whining to me--trite and lacking in character. Let me respond to your kind comments this way.

You know, most new parents have sky-high hopes for their babies. Like other parents with my background, I'd find myself looking at my new son thinking, "He's a clean slate. He has no flaws and no "baggage." Raise him properly and he'll be a happy, honorable man." I vowed that I'd never be like my parents because I knew, more than anyone else, of the damage poor parenting can cause.

But now I see that I and other such parents miss the fact that we know substantially less about what to do than about what not to do. After all, we didn't see many positive parenting skills in practice. To make matters worse, as children we received more hits than hugs. Consequently we're emotionally toughened (impaired?) as adults. Harsh life experiences can impart personality traits that, while useful for surviving a difficult life, are not entirely compatible with a parenting life.

My flawless, perfect child began accumulating microscopic scars some time ago, not from my actions but from my omissions. As much as I hate admitting it, I'm missing the capacity to express love for him and emotionally nurture him. As much as I try, I can't connect with him. My wife does it superbly.

But he's the only thing that has really mattered to me since my wife's admission 4 years ago. He's why I bring home my paycheck and deliver it to her unopened. He's why I gulp hard when she announces she's taking the summer off again (the stress of substitute teaching). And he's why I don't flip out entirely when my stepdaughter snidely tells me that my wife told her that I don't contribute enough to the household.

In fact, he's why I continue this charade of a marriage.

Neither he nor his sister knows, and I will never allow them to know, the reason my brain is in a blender. If I leave, I'll break up the family. If I stay, I'm looking down the road at another 4 + years of lovelessness, unhappiness, and stress. And I would tolerate it if I knew things were going right for my son. But they are not and now he's taking his cues from his sister and mother. I am the enemy.

I see I've started to lose it. Sorry for rambling. I'll come back when I've composed myself.

May 15, 2001
4:06 pm
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lisa78640
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In as much as we all hate to admit it we expect ourselves to be the perfect parent and when we fail as the perfect Joan Cleaver mom and Mr. Cleaver dad we beat ourselves up over it. I know that I haven't always been the perfect parent but I can honestly say at least I have tried to be there when ever they needed me. I hope that my children have enough faith in me to be able to come to me whatever is bothering them and if they can't to have the ability to find a responsible adult to talk to. We as parents are our worst enemy at judging ourselves. The only things we can do is our best. and just keep trying and never give up. As long as you are still out there still swinging and making some contact then we are doing our job.

On another note it might be better if you were to live the charade of a marriage. It may make a world of difference between you and your son. It may make you two closer and not futher apart. Sometimes we need to be faced with losing something before we relize how valuable it is. It also sounds like you need to try to have a talk with your son. Take him somewhere you two can be alone and talk. Let him know how much you care. If you can get choked up by writing the words down, you should be able to express to him how much you care for him and want him to succeed in life. The whole point is communication. Try it and let me know how things went.
lisa

May 15, 2001
4:27 pm
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skimbleshanks
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Seems like leaving town and beginning a new life would be refreshing. But that's not good advice. STAY STRONG and focused on YOURSELF. Heal yourself, and you'll have unimaginable power to heal others - including those you've abused and hurt. DONT GIVE UP!

May 17, 2001
6:28 pm
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chippy
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You obviously love or you would not be here in this "ask for help" forum.

While you may have not been "perfect" who the hell is?

Your mission is to help yourself then your loved ones. I truly believe you can have a better life if you believe it can be better.......look at what you are happy with and invite those you love to join you....ask about their day.....ask their opinion on things.....and DON'T JUDGE JUST LISTEN.....tell your son or whoever you are sorry for the past and will build a better future and see if they have any suggestions....if they do have suggestions make sure you continiously do some of them to show you mean it!

Actions speak louder than words...just keep doing the actions. You will get there!

May 20, 2001
2:46 pm
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ct2001
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Hello, a rather lengthy update and vent follows. Thanks for the input, I'll get the counselling started.

Unfortunately, now there more trouble. It's so complicated. I'll need to go back a bit to explain. My initial reaction to my wife's infidelity admission was to pack my things and go. But I couldn't do it know the impact I thought it might have on the kids. I couldn't just bail out on them. So I stayed and died a little each day. Didn't make me a pleasant person to be around--very quiet. I tried to fake it, not very well.

Since my wife's admission, I have been using as my guideline for staying whether my presence was beneficial to the kids or not. So far, it seemed beneficial. But lately I haven't been so sure. Even though the stepdaughter had it coming with the milk, and I'd have done the same under calmer circumstances, I didn't like the fact that I was so angry. As my wife noted, it truly was out of character. So it called into question my benefit to the family. When I thought about the fact that the kids seem to want me gone--probably the wife too--I'm devestated but beginning to get convinced.

No one has explicitly stated, "We want you to go." But I got the message from their refusal to come home if I was there. The wife clarified things a bit when she posed the question, "What are we supposed to do, all go live with my mother?" All being everyone but me. Clearly, if I left, everyone would come back and as long I was gone and continued to pay the bills, life was good.

I refused initially. To me, there was something wrong with children influencing whether a parent should remain a part of a family. If that were to become the rule, every parent would be voted out following each disciplinary action they took.

So I thought, this must have been an extraordinarily violent event. But when I describe it to myself, that doesn't ring quite true to me. I can't believe that even milk in the face and harsh words/tone warrant such reactions.

Relationships are now clearly polarized. I am on the outside. Their mother seems to act as mediator, but I believe when she talks with them she gives them support.

It kind of points out our differences in child rearing. I believe children should defer to parents. After all they deserve it. They pay the bills, food, roof, etc. And they willingly make all those unmentioned sacrifices--every day. But she sees children as "little adults" having equal say in family issues. I draw the line at their input.

She see's a family as a democracy. I believe parents make all decisions-as a unit. She says she believes in the parental team concept. But it's just lip service. The kids have told me that she'll relax rules we've both agreed to when I'm not there.

Even worse, she ingratiates self with the kids, covers up for them, and witholds information about my son from me. I have little parental authority with the stepdaughter, but I have stated clearly numerous times, I want to know everything that happens regarding my son. But she doesn't tell me, and I don't have the access to his schedule she has. She's with him all day at school, and she sets up all his nonschool interests. When he needs permission for something, he calls her.

But they're back to some extent now. The daughter is in and out, ocassionally staying with her father. I'm not privy to her schedule--never have been.

At this very moment, they're all at my company's picnic (at a Six Flags, everything free). I know that if I were to say I was going, no one would go. So I encouraged them go without me. The stepdaughter is taking a friend who will use my ticket. Ironic, isn't it?

When they are home, no one speaks to me and I say little. I am just trying to stabilize things. I spoke with my wife and suggested that she and the kids set up some counselling sessions. I'd join later at an appropriate time. I didn't tell her that I would move out in the interim and only come back when things were right.

Now that plan is in question. We have a perpetual phone issue. I use it for the work and research quite a bit, The stepdaughter uses for short and long periods (to speak with boyfriend). The wife uses it moderately to speak w/ friends, mother, etc. The son uses it incessantly. He has spent whole days on the phone. At one point, I had 3 separate lines coming into the house and they weren't enough. I cut it back to two.

Last night, while I was using one line, the kids argued heatedly about the other phone. My son lost. The daugher usually gets her way. I didn't know it, but he took his irritation as license to sleep elsewhere. And he chose the family with the son who provided him with alcohol and drugs.

When I found out this morning, I was very upset. But I had to remember that I was walking on eggshells. I told the wife that I thought I made it clear, I didn't want him sleeping at that house. She said that she didn't know it was a rule--my rule. I said firmly, "Here's the rule, my son is not to stay overnight in any family that would serve him alcohol and drugs. Furthermore, that's not a decision a 14 year old can make."

She nodded. But now my son sees the parental split and is using it. He's going to push things because he can get away with it. I am almost powerless. And If I leave now, things will get worse.

May 20, 2001
11:48 pm
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chippy
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Oh boy.......

Yes the kids will push to the limit......that is what they do...and they will push beyond the limit too.....that is their job....to find the holes and the limits.

Parents job is to set reasonable limits and stand firm. When 2 parents don't agree on limits all hell breaks loose. Kids fall through the cracks....

I don't think a 14 year old should be allowed to stay in a home with drugs and booze served. You have not been able to establish boundries cause of wife undermining your intent.
Kids have enough pals.....they need parents....your wife is wrong. Ask your wife if she condones your son drinking and taking drugs at 14.....if she says no then ask her why she would want your son to be in that atmosphere? If she says yes then you have clarified your problem, she is immature and should not be around your son.

Take your son to activities that will help him mature....take him to homeless shelters and soup kitchens to see "real problems" This may have an impact on him. Take him places that make him feel more grown up....you know manly things that are moral and uplifting....lead the way for your son dad.....show him the beauty of being a good man as only a father can. Whether you realize it or not, your son looks only to you for the guidance of what kind of man he wants to be. Your wife cannot provide that...only you can...so you have influence she will never have....use it to your advantage and lead the way.....you can reach your son...you really can cause he is looking to you for guidance and will never stop. Oh he won't tell you that but it is very very true. Be a father and he will be a son. My son loves me but he looks to his Dad for role modeling and cues on how to become a man.

May 21, 2001
4:01 pm
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Molly
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Your wife, is really something else. The kids are doing what their job is, and she is making it so terribly easy for them. Squash the egg shells, and take controll of the boy, he will act out, and act out until you do, or it is to late. What she has done is horrible, and perhaps she and her daughter would benifit by staying at her mothers, I think if nothing else you and your son would. She is the cheater, and since you tolorated that with out much fuss, she is going to push and push, just like one of the kids. So, Molly suggests, that you demand that she go to a very stern counselor with you, or get the hell out. There is hope for you and your son, but he needs to see you take action. You truly are so much more than a pay check, but this is what you have allowed HER to reduce you to. Drop insecurities, drop fear, the only thing worth keeping is your son, and he is on the edge of salvation. This is your home, you are paying for it, you make new rules, and if she doesn't like them tell her not to let the door hit her but on the way out. The son, may decide to go for the moment, but at this age boys truly want their father, be open with him, that you love him, and care for him, and want the best for him, but don't know all the rules, and are learning, he will understand, but you need to have that one on one with him, and he needs to see you squelsh the witch, who has been demeaning his father.

May 22, 2001
8:45 pm
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Anonymous
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divide and concure, i think thats how you spell it. And it sounds like they are utilizing it. You are not going to get anywhere without the help of your wife. I hate to admit it but I am guilty for covering for our children as well. I think that is in the mothering nature. I also do my best to up hold the fathers rules. I don't believe that children have a say in how the household is run. They don't pay the bills therefore they really don't have a say. When they are able to pay the bills they need to get a place of their own. I believe that a household is a monarcy. With a king and a queen in charge. The children are just the pheasants. They must to as they are told. It sound like you are doing your best at handleing the situtation. Just hang in there everything will work its way out.
moma

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