No idea how to shorten this - spent so much time writing it, but I feel like it'd be more poignant if it was more brief. I am opting to insert brackets/diff color font around parts that you can gloss over, easier than cutting out entire stories because some of them overlap and revising that exhausts me. Sorry, and I promise no judgement if you take the abbreviated path here. Really, who has time for a post this long?
Yesterday’s post was written weeks ago. Things were bad, but we still figured there was going to be a point at which things improved. Instead, things have continued to spiral out of control.
For 6 weeks Lad drove a car with no insurance and when we urged him to get the car insured, he blamed us for not adding his car to our policy.
We would have GLADLY done this, if he was approachable or willing to meet us halfway on SOMETHING. Plus we couldn’t add him because the car was solely in his name. He yelled at us **via text** for not just arranging to add ourselves to his title . . . and this is done how? When we don’t have your title and our only communication with you is being on the other end of rage, how do we go about adding ourselves to your title? Illogical.
[A perfect example of life with Lad: one morning he had no almond milk, so he went to the store to buy some. I was at the island making my protein shake. He came home and poured my skim milk in his blender while the newly purchased almond milk sat at his elbow. He blamed me, like not just “I wish you hadn’t left the skim out,” - he hollered at me, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, YOU LEFT THE SKIM SITTING RIGHT THERE. That was our life, unpredictable and frustrating.]
I know earlier in the pandemic I alluded to some of Lad’s struggles. Ed and I spent many nights pouring over websites trying to figure out what the ef was wrong with Lad. We thought we had it pinpointed to a personality disorder, maybe Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
For my writing class, I had to write a feature. Needed to interview someone. That’s not the kind of writing I like. I bounced back and forth about what I should do: write about something light and fluffy like caddying? Or something broad like adoption? Or something unfortunately personal like mental illness?
I chose mental illness. Coach and I had a Zoom session with NAMI, National Alliance of Mental Illness, and I figured I could interview one of the very helpful volunteers we spoke with, but I ended up interviewing a family friend, ‘Fred,’ who Coach reminded me had a tough time in high school.
Fred agreed to reach out to Lad telling Coach and I: I’m happy to try to get through to him. I didn’t talk to my mom for 2 years. Medication saved my life.
While I wrote my paper, I read books from the library about Bipolar Disorder. There are 3 different ‘levels’. I read about Borderline Personality Disorder. I am now convinced that Lad falls somewhere in there. Often multiple disorders present together, and so Lad (who is very narcissistic) could have BPD and also have NPD.
Basically NAMI instructed us to set boundaries. [Lad started showing up here to sleep, after we were asleep. One morning I drove Mini to her friend’s house to e-learn. I raced home for a Zoom appointment and forgot to lock the car. Lad took a golf club from Tank’s bag in the trunk of our car and drove away in his uninsured used car. Tank was SO distraught.
Lad gave Tank the club at the beginning of the summer and told him he could keep it. Tan is on the golf team.
I called Lad and told him to return the club or I would call the police. He was headed to the health club that’s attached to Coach’s office. Coach walked next door, ditching patients for a few minutes and told him to return it, but Lad refused. Coach warned him once more that the police would be called.]
Should I have called the cops, or not? (rhetorical, please don’t answer this in comments) Was this what NAMI meant by setting boundaries? Was Lad going to start to see that there were no more eggshells?
The cop came to my house, then he and I drove separately to the health club which gave Lad plenty of time to leave. The cop called Lad from his car. He told Lad that he was going to give me instructions on evicting him. This was NOT my request, just the cops injecting this. It pushed Lad over the edge.
[This was the one night that Coach and I were invited to hang with neighbors, the ‘cool kids’ implied - not immediate neighbors, obviously. A very fun couple down the street who we SO enjoy, but who have a dedicated group they normally socialize with (Coach and I are not usually included, probably because we can’t keep up with the alcohol consumption, I assume). We weren’t in the mood, but we went. We walked onto their deck and the woman took one look at us and was like: WHAT’S WRONG? We stayed for a while, trying to fake it.]
The advice of my therapist is not to tell people what we’re dealing with, then it’s ‘out there.’ Well, for an open-book type like myself that’s next to impossible. I wear stuff on my sleeve. So now I cringe going to the grocery store. My argument to her is this: That approach seems to fuel the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Shhh! Don’t tell, what would people think?
While at neighbors, Ed texted us to say that he got a text from Lad: GOOD-BYE ED.
Needless to say, we said good-night and left.
Coach was able to talk to Lad on the phone. He sounded angry. I emailed my therapist, who then alerted the head honcho. I assume they had Lad’s therapist reach out to him - a therapist that we switched to after Chip failed miserably, but one that Lad most likely hasn’t been seeing at all. No idea, thanks HIPPA. Coach and I sat in front of the computer for over an hour waiting for instructions, news, SOMETHING from my therapist. I realized: HIPPA. We went to bed and tried to sleep.
I can see Lad’s bank account, it’s linked to ours. He doesn’t have a credit card. He doesn’t have much money, but when he gets money he drops it like it’s hot. A few weeks ago, he bought something at a place called Chicago Reptile for $438. I suppose a cage and supplies were involved, but guessing that he dropped some serious moola on a reptile.
I would’ve made a damn fine detective.
**editing to add: Today he spent $240 at an online sports betting app. Swell.**
Spending piles of money is a symptom of BPD. This explains why last year Lad charged so much shit on our ‘emergency-only’ credit card, like $300-$550 a month - and he already had a food fund/card thing. I was like, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? This year with him NOT in college, I feel like I got a raise.
I had to insist that Coach stop texting him stuff like, ‘We can’t sleep. We’re worried about you.’ All summer when I KNEW something was not right, Coach was a few steps behind me in a fog of denial. We reached out to NAMI, and they agreed. Coach had to stop trying to engage Lad via text. It just invited our oldest son to rage at us and spew insulting things our way.
Lad hates me. Like he has said the most God awful things directed at me, and more recently started to hate on Coach too.
Enter Tim, that’s his real name. I don’t have enough respect to give him a fake name. Tim and his wife were friends of ours when the kids were younger. We left Catholic School and we drifted from that social circle. Tim fell off the wagon and they divorced. He has hired Lad to do workouts with his high school son to get him ready for football.
When all the ‘follow-our-rules’ shit hit the fan, Tim stepped in and had Lad stay with him at his lake house. We texted Tim back and forth. He’d say things like “Lad’s a great kid, he’s just complicated.” My response: “Lad’s a great kid, who has a mental illness.”
NAMI suggested we try to get Tim away from Lad. He’s creating a space where Lad can feel normal, etc. Coach called Tim after the ‘Good-bye Ed’ text and told him that since we all want what’s best for Lad, we needed him to stop inviting Lad to his house, giving him lawn jobs to do and paying him $400, etc. Tim had always updated us when Lad was coming to the lake.
Last weekend while at Creighton, I noticed Lad was at Tim’s based on tolls paid and the fact that Tim once again paid him $400. This time, Tim didn’t share that Lad was with him. So Tim must be darkside, starting to drink Lad’s kool-aid. Oh, and Tim is completely wasted anytime Coach calls him: ‘I’ll talk to him about respect, etc’. We’re like NO - this isn’t about respect it’s about a kid who needs to get help, but the kid isn’t seeing it yet. No amount of ‘buck up camper, talk nice to your folks’ speech is going to cure anything.
Monday morning Lad got a flat tire. He texted Coach to berate him for being a horrible father for not teaching him how to change a flat. We thought: this is it, he’s going to need us to help pay for tires. We even fist-bumped.
Our goal: sit down with him and compromise/find common ground. This suggestion by NAMI made sense.
Tim’s money bailed Lad out with the tires. Foiled.
[Fred met with Lad. Lad told him he’s renting a room for only $300 from a guy he used to work with at the restaurant over the summer. (honestly, I’m happy he has a place to stay that is reasonable). The issue is that it’s CRAZY far - like probably an hour and a half from his job selling cars for a family friend. And he drives like a maniac. He also told Fred that he figured he was covered with car insurance. Um, no. **As of today, he did finally get car insurance.**]
I included in my paper how we are just so desperate for a guide, a map, a sure-thing, but that doesn’t exist.
Coach has really been struggling. Maybe I was doing better because I read the books and I felt informed, plus the awful texts come to Coach’s phone since I am essentially dead to him. I’ve been upset, taking things one day at a time. I recently read Bibliomama’s post about waking up unsure of which thing to worry about, and I thought - ME TOO. Only I knew I was waking up to worry about Lad, but it took me a minute to refresh my mind on the latest development.
I got the sense that Coach was hoping we could lure Lad to the house and sit him down, talk some sense into him, even though Coach swears that isn’t what he thinks. I have a good friend whose daughter battled Anorexia for years, so maybe I’m just more aware that these things TAKE TIME - and sweet Jesus, does that suck.
[After the day we feared Lad might take his life, I reached out to a woman, Katrina, whose son committed suicide two years ago. He was a year older than Lad and they’d been on swim team and water polo together since they were in junior high. I always gravitated towards this mom. My heart breaks for her. Lad took his old buddy’s death very hard.
Katrina invited me over and we talked for hours. I hoped that Lad could meet with her (as I knew she’d do anything to help another family) and that she might urge him to get the help that she wishes her son would’ve gotten. She agreed to help in any way she could. Coach texted Lad telling him I bumped into Katrina and that I mentioned how Lad still remembers her son’s birthday. “Katrina would like you to stop by the house,” Coach texted him that she has little candles that she gives out to her son’s friends when they visit.
Lad blew up, texting back to get out of his way during his grieving process and how dare we speak on his behalf, etc.]
I assured Coach on Tuesday as I cut his hair that God is not intending for us to be anxious or to worry, that He will take care of things. We can only do our part. This message was compliments of my very timely rosary meditation that morning. I insisted to him that we’re in for a long battle. We both recognize that our son might never seek help. Scary. He might always live like this.
Today (after all of my reassuring to Coach), I fell apart. Lad texted Reg and called him repeatedly. He wanted him to put the box of new clothes he bought (as he scrapes by financially) out on our porch so he could come by and pick it up. Coach and I disagreed on how to approach this. Coach didn’t want to upset him. I didn’t want to be manipulated. The clothes were Lad’s. He paid for them. Coach insisted we put them out there. We turned to NAMI for guidance, and ultimately let him pick up the clothes.
Delilah brought her teenage daughter to meet the baby twins today, they showed up as I was debating our approach through short texts and calls to Coach. Scolding Reg for answering his phone, even though this isn’t his fault. I started to cry in the kitchen as they played with the babies in the family room. My tears wouldn’t stop.
I went to my room to take my contacts out. I COULD NOT compose myself. I sobbed and sobbed. How is this our life? This nightmare I’m not supposed to share. A nightmare with no official ending point.
Oh, and by the way, BPD is usually caused my two things: genetics and childhood trauma, like child abuse or neglect. We don’t really have much of a family history of mental illness - a few people with alcoholism, I had a cousin with OCD, but nothing like this.
Guess how much I have beaten myself up for the supposed abuse? A bunch. I was a stay-at-home mom, I just had the one job. I swear the kid was loved to pieces. But was I too hard on him at times? Should we have yanked him from the school where he was bullied? If I didn’t have 5 other well-adjusted kids who have great relationships, are able to be held accountable, and possess the ability to self-reflect I would feel worse, I suppose. If feeling worse is possible, but really - what did we do wrong? How can we fix it now?
Today when I fell apart I felt overwhelmed by the constant thought process of what next, how should we approach this? What if he does that? Will he get insurance? Can we get him away from this ass-hat Tim who “sees a lot of himself in Laddie” - oh, that’s swell. Every mother’s dream. How will we explain his absence at holidays? How will I write my Christmas poem? Will we always be a broken family? How will all of this impact my younger kids?
Maeve knocked gently on my bathroom door, “Um, Mommy. So, you left the monitor on (baby monitor that is on during naps in my room - so Delilah and her daughter were downstairs playing with the twins with my wailing as the soundtrack). It’s OK, I turned it off. Do you want me to do something for you? Can I get you something?” - as she rubbed my back. My baby.
I asked her to get my phone and I called Coach sobbing as I leaned over my bathroom countertop: I don’t think I’m strong enough for this. I just don’t know what to do anymore and I’m tired, so tired of thinking about all of it. It’s too hard, Coach. WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?
Coach, who never abandons a patient, took my call in another room. Told me to go write all of it down . . . well, this is hours later because my flood of tears would have no doubt shorted out my laptop, but here I am. Writing it down, after deciding to post the initial inkling in yesterday’s post that has been sitting in my drafts for weeks.
I intended to cut this down because who has time to read this long-ass shit. I envisioned writing something short and simple about the emotional ups and downs. Something eloquent.
Instead, this is what poured out of me.
I wonder crazy shit like, should we just have kept the egg-shell-walking thing going on? We were so damn good at it. What if our original therapist, Chip, was any good at what he did (although in my research it does say that BPD is often hard to diagnose) instead of brushing this off as ‘he just needs to get a job and move out because he was doing fine when he was at school in New York.’ Um, define ‘fine’.
Not to mention the issues the years leading up to this that should've tipped him off.
Lad had no friends at college. He was spending money out the ass to fill some void. Physically fought with the two roommates he scrounged up when his water polo teammates refused to live with him 2 years in a row. Sounds like a textbook case of a healthy kid not adjusting well to life back with his folks, right?
Writing is my break from the pain. Not sure how or why, but if I can find something silly to write about it distracts from our current reality. So, I have a million posts about normal-life stuff lined up ready to drop. I haven’t been sure if I could share this or if I should share this.
I do credit the pandemic to bringing the severity of the situation to light. Him living here opened our eyes.
Please be gentle in your comments, not saying don’t comment - just PLEASE DON’T TELL ME HOW THIS SOUNDS SO MUCH LIKE A KID WHO IS JUST HAVING A HARD TIME ADJUSTING TO LIFE AT HOME AFTER THE FREEDOM OF COLLEGE (implied: DURING COVID). If that is what you think, re-read this (that’s your punishment, wink wink - get it, cause it’s long) until you understand.
Mental illness is a bitch. So is Mary Ann, but at least she usually stays across the street and is easy to laugh at. **And with that, I feel better already. That was your little gift for getting to the end.**