I’ve lived up to the title of my blog lately, been an ’emotional wreck’ to a degree I haven’t experienced since I was first diagnosed with major clinical depression almost two decades ago.
As well as dealing with the things I outlined in my last blog “A Lot to Think About”, I’ve been struggling for quite a long time now with my relationship with my adult Godson. Two weeks ago it really came to a head, due to my emotional fragility and his arrogance and self-centered behaviors and attitudes.
My Godson and I have had numerous encounters that have led to emotional meltdowns and wounded feelings over the course of the last 7 years or so.
My husband and I have been active in his life as a support system, as surrogate parents, as his father left the family when my Godson was only 4 years old and his mother struggled financially, emotionally and mentally as a single mother, not able to nurture and support him as one would expect. My husband and I have been there to encourage him, fill in when his own parents were not available, have helped to guide him and give him a sturdy foundation upon which he could build an independent life for himself upon entering adulthood.
Once he began to attend college our relationship changed dramatically. He told us that our life experiences held no significance for him, that the world had changed so much that our experiences were outdated and didn’t apply to today’s world and today’s young adult experience. He chastised us for using terms like “elders”, suggesting that by using such words we were implying that we were better than him, smarter than him, that he was not our equal. When asking him for the ‘respect’ we are due he argued that one shouldn’t be respected based on age, if respect is due only because someone is ‘older’ then that would imply that as someone younger, he would never be able to garner the respect of those older than him, that he owed no one respect.
When I’ve pointed out to him that he was less than considerate of others, (evidenced by his expectation for others to listen to and entertain that which he enjoys, which is important to him, but his refusal to listen to the things that are important to others), he informed me that his generation doesn’t subscribe to a ‘moral obligation’ to reciprocate if they are truly not interested.
Because we had been supportive of him for so long, he decided that it was implied that we would continue to be, that if he needed anything, all he had to do was to ask and we would fulfill his needs. (He treated his Maternal Grandparents the same way, expecting financial support but not believing he owed them, even the most basic consideration.)
After graduating college and being struck with the realization that there was no ‘advanced position’ available to him, that there was no way for him to put his education to use, unless he went on to get his doctorate and become a professor, he accused us of misleading him, encouraging him to get an education knowing he wouldn’t be able to use it to sustain himself. (We had nothing to do with choosing his majors, which seems to have slipped his mind.)
In recent years his life has revolved around role playing games, whether they be games that involved getting together with others in a ‘social’ situation, playing with others online or video games. He goes to work and plays games. It’s all he talks about. Once in a while I had been able to engage him in a political discussion, but recently he’d even begun to dismiss this topic and redirect the conversation back to role playing games, indicating that he’d been spending all his free time on video games, therefore he’d missed a lot of news and current events.
My husband was instrumental in getting him hired at all of the three jobs he’s had in his adult life. We taught him how to drive and let him use our vehicle to take his test.
All this time, my philosophy was that if I treated him with respect, consideration, caring and dignity, if I modeled those behaviors, that he would have learned to demonstrate those behaviors toward others, that he would reciprocate. I don’t necessarily think that was an ‘expectation’, but rather my hope. I’ve been sorely disappointed.
The character Sheldon Cooper on the television show “The Big Bang Theory” responded to receiving a Christmas gift in the following way: ” I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.”
My Godson has actually said that he felt ‘obligated’ to visit me, to spend time with me. Rather than reciprocating the feelings of caring, consideration, and respect that were offered to him, he suggested to me that no one does anything for someone else without the expectation of receiving a benefit themselves.
Two weeks ago he pushed me over my limit, I’d simply had enough. He said something that felt like an insult. I retreated inside, decided not to engage, to withdraw from the discussion rather than saying something I might regret later. This incident created a wedge between my husband and I, as he defended my Godson and accused me of setting the tone for the rest of the day. This wedge between my husband and I has continued for the past two weeks. I’ve been crying at the drop of a hat, uncontrollably sobbing, feeling taken advantage of, denied the right to ‘feel’, to express my feelings, to be hurt by inconsiderate and obnoxious behavior. I’m supposed to just ‘let it go’.
I know that I’ve played a role in the creation of this obnoxious individual and his arrogant attitude, being willing to support, encourage, and provide for him without him ever having to work for or earn what we were able to give. He did nothing to earn my respect or my trust, I mistakenly gave it.
I’m seeing him now without the rose colored glasses of hope. As an adult, he’s not someone I would choose as a friend. We have nothing in common any longer, no interests to share, I’m unable to understand his obsession with role playing games, he’s unwilling to consider what’s of interest to me, or to have a conversation about anything other than what’s important to him, while I’m dealing with the harsh reality of my health conditions, disability and my responsibilities, trying to get through each day and to remain functional.
I’ve been trying to eliminate unnecessary stressors and to relax more, to make taking care of ‘me’ a priority. I’m tired of being mistreated, of allowing people to mistreat me. I’m releasing him of any obligation (real or implied).
My reality takes a lot out of me, I’m fighting fatigue on a daily basis, struggling to adapt physically, emotionally I’m exhausted and overwhelmed. Enough is enough. He’s not the little boy that was my Godson, that told people he thought of me as a mom, he’s not the young adult that told me his world would stop if he lost his relationship with me. His ‘need’ for me in his life no longer exists, therefore his sense of obligation no longer exists either.
Why does growth and healing have to be so painful?