I saw a meme the other day that said something along the lines of “It is the adults responsibility to fix broken relationships, not the child’s”.
It really struck a chord with me as I continue to work my way through this new normal with my adult son. He has made it unequivocally clear that he does not want to talk to me. He has even gone so far as to block me on social media.
He is so angry with me; some of it I understand, some I don’t.
But he is also still actively engaged with my husband, his step dad. Whether a small sign that he is still around, or an attempt to make me feel inadequate, I am mostly just grateful.
I want to give my son the space he is demanding so he knows that I will respect his wishes regarding his mental health healing. I also need to implement behavioral boundaries, so my approach to reconnecting must be different this time. All while trying to figure out how to make sure he knows how important he is to me (something he seems to be doubting these days). I fear he could fall into thinking no one cares for him due to things that he experienced early on in life. Negative cognitions can be a real bitch to deal with.
Or maybe I am just super projecting myself and my own fears at that age, on to myself. What a mess this parenting after trauma stuff really is.
So I have been tossing around the idea of sending him a note, something short and to the point with updates on the family and a reassurance of how much he means to me.
Life is Too Short
On the Fourth of July, a friend of mine from highschool lost her 15 year old son in a freak boating accident. Just like that, her life is forever changed – she will be filled with grief like no other. Thinking about her pain brings tears to my eyes.
Once I saw that I wasted no time. I went down to my collection of homemade cards, I selected one and I wrote my son a note to let him know how much I love him, no matter what. I stamped it, and I mailed it yesterday.
Whether he talks to me again soon, or years from now, I will do everything I can to make sure my son knows how important he is, and how he can always count on me to be here for him, if he ever needs me.
The Fear that Trauma Causes
I don’t second guess my decision to send my son a note, even if he does get angry at me for not giving him every inch of the space he requires. But I do feel a ping of fear as I recall one of the first and most tangible proverbial punches my dad even landed.
I had already moved in with my grandparents, which had infuriated my father – but for all the wrong reasons.
In the weeks before I left, during the conversation where I asked him to sign custody of me over to my grandparents he told me, and I quote “If you leave then I can’t get food stamps anymore”. I was 14 years old. In that same conversation he threatened to kill himself as a result of my leaving him.
When his threats didn’t work, after I left he resorted to silent estrangement. I spoke to him only a couple times over the phone in those first few months away, each time tense and angry – until it culminated into a blow-out with my grandfather, and my dad calling me a gold digger before hanging up on me. That year he sent my Christmas card back “Return to Sender”.
I was crushed. Seven years passed before we spoke again, shortly after that he died. I still have the unopened card.
And I feel the fear of receiving that same rejection from my son as I reach out to tell him how much I love him.
Our Relationship is Different
Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now, I know this situation is different Sadly my emotions, when not monitored, are trying hard to anchor into negative thinking but I keep reminding myself of the facts.
My relationship with my son is so very different from the one I had with my father and I must remember that as I wait patiently for my son to work through his own healing.
I just wish I could help him. And I wish I could calm this pensive fear nestled in the pit of my stomach.
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