Even after all I have shared here, I consider this post to be one of the most difficult to write. This blog entry is being prompted by current happenings in our little family, and also by blogs and other articles I have read over the past two years, some as recently as yesterday. Our younger son is currently struggling with depression.
The Peacemaker is trying to figure out his way in life. He is attune to the craziness going on in the world, as well as unsettling political and sociological dilemmas here in America, and he is trying to apply it to himself and make sense of it all. As we all know, there is a lot of shit happening right now overall, not to mention with me and Blue Eyes, and it can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t have the ability to block some of it out, or to put it into some kind of perspective. The Peacemaker is affected. He is 22 years old.
The Peacemaker has always been just that, a maker of peace. His older brother is high strung and an over achiever. I am likewise driven and both The Pragmatist and I are very verbal. Blue Eyes is also driven, but in a less obvious way. He was driven to succeed in business, but not necessarily to succeed in interpersonal relationships. Blue Eyes used his charm and sales abilities to lure people into his web and to use them for his own needs. He was quiet about it and no one knew he was not genuine… and I mean NO ONE. He was an entity unto himself. He worked a lot and he lacked basic relational skills (with me, his children, his family), which magnified my own verbal tendencies as I began and ended every conversation. My mother has asked me numerous times how I went from being the quiet, demure child she knew, to an outgoing overly verbal adult. I really believe I was desperately trying to be heard by the one person who was blocking me out, rationalizing me away, the one person I had chosen to be there for me and to always listen and care. Blue Eyes often pushed me off the cliff of my own sanity by not seeming to care about whatever was so important to me on any particular day. He quietly went about his own business (which as it turns out was a secret life of sex addiction) and I tried to cope with what was left over while running a household, working, volunteering, and raising two kids. The Peacemaker went about his own business, but we now know, he felt left out. He didn’t feel heard, even though he wasn’t talking. It breaks my heart that he also went so many years feeling like he wasn’t heard, or feeling that he wasn’t respected for who he was, but it is time for him to step up in his own life. It is what we all need to do. I am proud of him for stepping up now.
When the boys were young, The Peacemaker was the easier child to parent, a real pleaser, less defiant, and always wanting to avoid an argument or punishment. As they grew older, The Peacemaker was the more difficult to acclimate to life outside our little household microcosm. The Pragmatist honed his people skills and the world loves him. At school, teachers adored him, peers flocked to him. The Peacemaker walked in the shadow of The Pragmatist. Even though The Peacemaker always had his sports and his own friends (lots and lots), as far as his self esteem and his own identity, he was reliant on his brother. The Pragmatist’s friends were often like him, over achieving oldest or only children driven by a need to succeed. Whereas, the Peacemaker’s friends were generally partiers who did not care about school or grades.
When his brother left for college, The Peacemaker started showing serious signs of not wanting to get out of bed. Of not wanting to go to school. I knew that the only reason he went to school at all was to see his friends and so that he could qualify for playing sports. During high school, The Peacemaker started smoking marijuana and playing video games. We put in rules, but he broke them (but he never yelled, or overtly defied us) He mostly hid his activities. It reached a point where we decided we would have him talk with someone outside our family, a child psychologist. He went twice and refused to go again. He said he didn’t like talking about things and that he was fine. It got to the point where I just wanted to get him through high school. I honestly hoped that once he was through high school, he would finally realize that he was living his life for himself, not for us. He was always living his life for himself, he just never realized it or embraced it.
I do believe low grade depression played a part possibly as far back as middle school, and the child psychologist agreed, but The Peacemaker refused medication. He got by in school on his innate brain power and charm, because he certainly did not do the work a lot of the time. He had more absences than any other kid in his class and yet he ended with a B+ average at an expensive college preparatory private high school. The result certainly wasn’t from his putting in a lot of effort. Just like with Blue Eyes (who I met at 20 years old) I thought The Peacemaker would mature through his challenges. I thought Blue Eyes would mature past his dependency on his parents, but there is no maturing past addiction. I thought The Peacemaker would mature past his reliance on his brother and his inability to take responsibility for his own actions and his own happiness, but that doesn’t just happen, it takes hard work. I have always been happy, I never had to work very hard for it. I was not abused, my parents were not addicts or narcissists, I was loved, I loved myself, I worked hard and I was happy with the results. I admit that depression was difficult for me to understand until after d-day. Then I started to get it. I realized what it was like not to want to get out of bed, not to want to leave the house, not to want to eat, or exercise, or live.
Since returning from college after a little over a year back east, The Peacemaker has attended local University off & on. He has smoked a lot of marijuana and played a lot of video games and spent a lot of time hanging out with friends. Due to my own trauma, I have not been able to focus much on The Peacemaker. I still strongly believe that he is on his own in terms of dealing with his own life, however, we are enabling him in that we have not pulled his college funds and he lives at home rent free. The past few months, he has worked, pretty hard actually, for our company, but he has not produced the results within the time frame deadline, and that was a requirement for the job. The Peacemaker says he feels too much pressure. In fact, his father has put almost no pressure on him to complete the job on time. The Peacemaker has failed himself.
While we were all in Japan, The Peacemaker had a big “ah ha” moment. While he was withdrawing from his marijuana and video game habit, he realized he was not happy where his life is now. He started talking it over with Blue Eyes a few days ago. Since returning home from Asia (The Peacemaker stayed for an additional 8 days, so was away from his habits for over 3 weeks), he has given up marijuana and video games completely. He spends more time with us and less with his friends, which is tough on me, exhilarating for Blue Eyes. Blue Eyes wants to see his son happy. So do I… I just realize from living with my borderline personality disorder sister and with my sex addict husband, that I need to focus on myself, and they need to focus on themselves. It is much more difficult when it is your child, but my child is an adult now and we need to treat him as one. I am very proud that he is no longer giving in to his own “addictions” if you will. They were, after all, replacements for facing his own life, and coping with his own life. I am proud that he is seeking out therapy and that he realizes he is depressed and that he is exercising and has requested a light therapy “happy lamp” to deal with the dark and rainy days we are experiencing here.
I know from his talks with his father, that The Peacemaker feels like I have a controlling personality (as does his big brother) and he has accused Blue Eyes of mistreating me, betraying me, and lying to me, because he thinks his father was trying to control me. Um, that is a big miss and a huge projection on the part of my son. I knew nothing of his father’s behaviors. The Peacemaker is a boy, obviously, and I have come to the conclusion that I will never truly understand the male species, any of them. I’m okay with that. I’m letting it go. I am a strong female role model who has had a productive career, along with pretty single handedly raising two boys, and I am proud of myself. What he says hurts, but I won’t take it personally. He is not saying it to me, and it is his healing we are talking about. I want him to keep talking so badly. At one point, when he was 18 years old, he finally yelled. The kid had not yelled his whole life. He was pissed about something that wasn’t about me, but he yelled at me anyway. I know he hates and resents this moment in time, but I hugged him and said, “I’m proud of you for yelling. I’m proud of you for not holding in your feelings.” I know he hates himself for losing his temper in that moment in time. He may consider me “controlling,” and he has said that I have a bad temper, but what I am is honest. I am honest about my feelings, my needs, my wants, my desires, and my pain. I dare say, he could use a little of that honesty himself, and I do hope he finds it.
The Peacemaker has been depressed to some degree or another since he was in middle school. We all found out about Blue Eyes secret life on January 11, 2014, so many many years later. Blue Eyes has been hurting people his whole life, but he kept it a secret. He kept it all inside. I have no doubt in my mind that Blue Eyes felt completely out of control of his life while he was growing up and that is most likely a big facet of his addiction. I also know that Blue Eyes has used sex for coping since he was 10 years old. I do believe Blue Eyes continued using sex to cope and to theoretically have control (in a very out of control way) of a secret part of his life, but the truth is, I bent over backwards to give Blue Eyes the autonomy and power in his life that he seemed to want, and I took care of everything else. The things I had control over, were the leftover things Blue Eyes didn’t want to control, and his addiction and his behaviors are not about me. I hope our son is able to take control of his life in a positive and constructive way and that he achieves the happiness he seeks. I suspect it will not be a short journey.
Happiness is all I have ever wanted for my children, and what I want for me, and everyone else, but happiness, in my mind and in my experience, is most often a journey of self awareness. Some of us have been through a lot more than others, and our lives have been fraught with sadness, and shame, and pain, but each of us individually must crawl towards the light, by ourselves. Others can support us, and love us, and care for us, but they can’t heal us. When we feel the sunshine on our faces, we will know that we have done it.
On a side note, I would like to feel some literal sunshine on my face… we are drowning here in the Pacific Northwest!