It's been a rough couple of months. Actually, "rough" doesn't even being to come close. Hell is more like it. Knight's teenaged son had his first major mental break. It was a slow thing, building up over the last 2 years. The kid has been in weekly therapy since he started having problems about 2 years ago, but his behaviors kept getting worse. Then, one day this past summer I went outside to check on him and found him tying a rope to a tree. The told me in very cold, unemotional detail that he was going to hang himself. He became obsessed with talking about killing himself and chopping people's arms and legs off. He talked about how it would feel if he threw himself under the school bus, or under a car, and which would hurt more, and how much blood each would cause.
After three weeks in the mental hospital he came home. The very next day went outside to our backyard and started throwing rocks at our house. I went out and talked to him, and he stopped. A couple days later I went for a walk and left my stepson home alone. I had his therapists permission, and in fact, she suggested the idea. I was gone for 15 minutes-- I didn't even leave our property. When I returned to the house, I found that my step-son had taken an ax to our back patio. (Yes, our ax was locked up. He found the neighbor's ax near the property line.) The kid was uninjured, and did not threaten me with the ax, but he was very proud of what he'd done. As soon as I came near the house he bragged to me about his actions while I was "gone." Then he started talking about killing people, and wondering if he could use the chainsaw to remove his own leg. I called Knight at work, and told him to drop what he was doing and come home. Frankly, I was pretty freaked out by my step-son's whole attitude and demeanor. Then I called the the therapist. At first she told me to call the police and have him arrested, but as we talked about his actions, attitude, and his actions while we were on the phone, the therapist decided involving cops might get the kid tasered or shot. So, she told me to have my husband take him to the ER and have him admitted back to the psych ward.
He spent the better part of 3 months on the mental health floor of the local hospital. Right now the kid is receiving intense inpatient care in a residential treatment facility about 2 hours away from us. For the 2 months before my step-son's admittance to the hospital we had to keep him on constant suicide watch. His therapist labeled him suicidal and homicidal. We were instructed to lock up EVERYTHING that could possibly be used as a weapon.. kitchen knives, forks, pictures on the wall's dining room chairs. absolutely everything. I had Knight move into his son's bedroom to keep an eye on him at night. Even with that, the boy told his therapist, "That's okay, I'll just wait until Dad is asleep, then I'll sneak out of my room and put my head through the living room window. Nobody will know what's going on until they hear the crash." Then, we had to put an alarm on the kid's door.
Yeah, it's been hell.
And, yes, I'm dead serious.
This gives you only a small idea of the stress and strain we've been under trying to manage step-son's behaviors and needs with the needs of the other two kids. PLUS deal with the problems between us. And, of course mental health care in this country sucks, so we've been fighting the system trying to force someone to help the kid. OR. rather *I* have been fighting the system. Arguing with doctors, talking with therapists, researching options... doing all the leg work, all the ... well *everything* in order to force a broken system to recognize that the kid needs serious, real help. My knight? Well.. whether he likes to admit it or not, he's a submissive guy and navigating the current system requires a bit of... forcefulness. Something he just doesn't have. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making it out to be a bad thing.. it's one of those things that just IS. But, it meant that if anyone was going to advocate strongly for my step-son, it had to be me.
It was emotionally draining. And quite frankly left me with very little left to give to my knight. Knight who saw his only biological son falling down the same path of mental illness that he watched the boy's mother fall down. The same path we lost my step-daughter to. Knight needed my time and attention, too. And I was unable to give it. Truth be told, I resented knight's inability to step up and make noise, file complaints, and find ways to work around the system. I didn't WANT to take care of knight's needs. I was too busy trying to get through the hell we were in. I felt he was not supporting me, or his son. I felt abandoned, alone, and stuck with all the work.
After my step-son was admitted for the long term hospital stay, and it became clear he would not be coming home any time soon my knight and I very seriously talked about divorce. Things were really... REALLY bad between us.
I was fed up, over-stressed and we had no idea how to relate with each other outside the super high stress situation with his son.
He was upset, depressed, fed up and felt completely helpless, and rejected.
On three different occasions in the last couple months we were literally
hours away from his moving out. The company he works for owns a
building with about 20 studio apartments. It would take 5 minute
conversation with the company president (small company, the president
and even CEO are very accessible) for him to get a key to one of
those studio apartments.
Each time at the very last minute, he came to me with some version of "I will leave if that's what you really want, but please don't make me."
Each time, I backed down. Mostly for the sake of my kids. My daughter is very close to her dad, and would be crushed if we split. My 13 yr old son loves his step-dad, and is very much becoming a man who treats women very well, and a lot of that is him watching my knight with me. They are close, friends even, and I don't want to take that away from my son. But, also for myself. If we split I want to be damned sure there is no hope left for us. And it's difficult not to see at least a shred of hope when he's sitting in front of me in tears, practically begging me not to tell him to leave. He's a good man. We have our problems and difficulties, but he is dedicated to me, and our family, and I decided that if he could still hold on that tightly to me... to us, after I had made it pretty clear that I was done... well.. He deserved for me to give this another chance.
We've had some long talks over the last couple weeks, and have identified, and pinpointed some of the more pressing problems.
All of our problem seem to revolve around him not being able to show or talk about his feelings.
Yep. No surprise there.
He needs a very high level of attention, both physically and emotionally.
Again, if you've read this blog for any length of time you already know that about knight.
And, as I've known for years, he's uncomfortable with that part of himself, afraid to express it, hesitant to admit it. etc, etc..
So, what happens is I give him that high level of care and attention.. our entire flr is based on meeting this deep need of his. But I don't feel that he appreciates the effort that I put into it, and I start to back off. He feels neglected but doesn't say anything and starts slipping in his care and attention to me. At this point, I usually say something to him and instead of telling me he's feeling neglected, he quietly slips into feeling rejected, and things get worse from there.
Or.. at least this is the conclusion we've come to over the last several weeks of analyzing and talking about things.
Here are the conclusions we have come to:
We love each other, and when you get past the stress, overwhelm, and frustration neither of us wants to split.
I like the flr dynamic.
He likes the flr dynamic. It gives him a sense of emotional security.
He very much needs my touch. He craves it, and if he doesn't get enough touch from me, he gets depressed. He would be perfectly happy to *never* leave my side. He would be perfectly happy if he could *never* let go of my hand. Hell, he would be in heaven if he could drape himself to my back like a baby koala bear and stay there until the end of time.
He HATES talking about anything flr or submission related. It makes him feel like he's forcing me to do something, to be someone I don't want to be. Talking about his tendency to be submissive makes him feel... somehow not good enough. I can't explain it any better than that, because I'm not sure I understand it.
He equally hates talking about his need for my touch and attention. He hates admitting it. He feels guilty and "wrong" for even admitting he needs it. He's afraid it will drive me off. Personally, I think the need itself scares him.
When I send him off to go do something without me on the weekends, or in the evenings-- go to the store, take a kid somewhere without me, spend the afternoon burning trash.. whatever.. he feels like I am sending him away from me. It's almost a punishment for him.
What kind of touch does he need? Honestly, ANY touch. My hand in his, or my legs across his lap while he reads to the kids is enough. This isn't a sexual thing, it's an emotional thing.. he's looking for any physical touch from me, as much as he can get, and he will do whatever he has to in order to get it.
We've come to the conclusion that when he starts not following through on things, he's subconsciously trying to get my attention. Negative attention.. being yelled at.. is better than what he feels is being ignored. (even if I don't think I'm ignoring him.. he FEELS ignored, and is trying to get my attention.)
So.. Here is what I have decided:
We are going back to flr. In all honesty, we never actually left the flr dynamic. We said we would go back to 50/50ish, but the reality is that we never did. Flr is our natural state.
I'm not going to talk to him about it. Not going to discuss it, and not going to check in to see how or if the dynamic is working for him. I'm just going to DO it and keep my mouth shut. If I need to have a reality check talk, I'll do it HERE. He doesn't read the blog, so he'll never see it.
We have to address this deep need of his for my touch and attention. This is a need that just absolutely has to be met. Kind of like I need to breathe, or I die. My touch is that kind of need for him. Without it he dies emotionally. I will admit that I don't understand it -- not at all. If he or the kids hang on me to much I get down right bitchy. I have been very careful to let him know that I don't think it's a bad thing.
I need to find away for him to feel me my presence even when we are not occupying the same space. When he is at work, or even when we're at home and doing different things. He NEEDS to feel my presence.
I can not physically touch him every second he's not at work. I will resent it. I'm just not that touchy... See above.
He absolutely has to do 1 thing: He needs to tell me when he is not getting the touch time that he needs, and when he if feeling neglected. This acting out garbage must stop.
EDIT: He needs to do 2 things. 1 I mentioned above. 2. I need him to always show appreciation for the effort I'm making to meet his emotional needs. He can't take it in stride and act like it's just part of the deal. For me to be able to give that much he HAS to show his appreciation and devotion in everything he does.
We are going to start there. We can't tackle all the issues at once. With all the stress we've been dealing with, we're still learning what are OUR issues and what are problems caused by the stress. But, THIS is something that has been with us off and on for 10 years, so it's a good place to start.