I'm not okay, you're not okay

by Kathleen D. Cone
(Phoenix Arizona USA)

I Broke up with my Son Today

Well, I called just to talk to my son because I love him and he came off treating me like dirt, telling me all sorts of things that weren't necessarily falsehoods but traps that I could not get out of and I finally got angry inside.... 7 or 8 years ago I got angry inside at him once then too and we saw little of each other and never spoke for the next 5 years.

I got so tired of decades of trying, that I finally got to the point of going from "you're not okay" (for me meaning I'm worried about you) and I'm loving you anyway unconditionally while you treat me as if "You are okay but you know you are not okay and I'm not okay"...while I'm feeling like "I'm not okay"... Lets see what that looks like.

You're not okay (and I'm concerned for you)
You consider yourself "okay but not okay at the same time " at the same time, you consider me not okay and I consider myself "not okay".

Kind of crazy actually.

I'm having a really challenging time with panic right now in my life and the drama of his rejections is just too much for me. I have abandonment issues of my own... and since the love is not reciprocal and really hasn't been for 30 years...

I feel stuck in what is like a parent trap, I'm 'supposed to love my child' but I need love too and he isn't going to love me anytime soon, in fact I don't remember him loving me except when he was really young and hadn't yet decided he despised me.

I broke up with my son today... inside I got angry because I didn't want to deal with the abusiveness from him anymore. And I felt like I just needed to say it to this group so that it takes some of the danger out of "you're not okay, I'm not okay" the equation and to get some feed back....

I hope it's not too confusing?

My son is 35 years old. Now I am concerned that my rejection may push him over the edge... argh... I guess I just have to hope that his intense selfishness will result in his ultimate survival. That I don't really have that much of an impact on his life... in the first place.... whew.. tough one for me.

I have no desire to harm myself, in case anyone is wondering...

Kathy

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Mar 24, 2010
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I can't believe it! But it's true!
by: Kathleen D. Cone

Last night, and a few nights ago I experienced a few more 'break-through' panic attacks. I say break-through because they happened even though I am on a medication (but I did not take more medication, instead I did deep breathing, self hypnosis to Don's programs and road the episodes out) to keep me calmer while I learn to cognitively retrain my brain not to react when no real danger is at hand. (it was tough but I did it) Yeah!

I think these episodes they had alot to do with issues involving my son and a few other fears unrelated..

But by complete surprise, my son showed up at my door (he never goes out of his way to visit me) bringing things back to me he had borrowed in the past and there he was right when I was in the midst of a panic episode... I'd just gotten out of the shower... (taking a shower seems to calm me down, and I was singing "somewhere over the rainbow") to help keep my mind occupied with hope and ...as I stepped out of the shower... there he was...

He put his arms around me hugged me and of course I began to cry because I was so happy to see him... I explained I was experiencing a panic episode and that was why I was so weepy...but he knew that I was also crying because he came by to see me.

He said he was sorry he hadn't written back to me yet, but that the letter I wrote to him really helped take alot of pressure off of him. That we are all trying to work out our own understanding of this world and he was grateful that I wrote to him.

I got to spend a little time with him alone, just talking about nothing specific but he showed me a car he finally bought with money he'd saved and talked about having enrolled in school.

He even offered to help me if I needed him too since I don't own a car.

But, just seeing him and knowing, that with every thing he said to me and every gesture he made he was telling me he loved me... it calmed my stress levels tremendously and I just wanted you all to know.

With your help, I did something that worked out really good!!

I asked my husband later if he though my crying and being in the midsts of a panic episode would negatively effect my son, (you know, cause him guilt) amd in his opinion... and he said, "No, I think it will make him think more about how important he truly is to you, because you were crying out of joy to see him, and that it would help heal him in the long run." To be loved so much by your mother is a really good thing for him to see, and his doing what he did by coming over and saying 'I love you' in his own way, was really healthy for him to do, not just for you, but for himself!"

And so two iceburgs floating in the same ocean, and one really good step in the right direction... on the part of both of us...

Kathy

Mar 24, 2010
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Very thoughtful!
by: Don

Hi Kathy,

I agree with mxkx, it does appear that you are indeed trying to do the right things...The ball is in his court now.

Just as was obvious in your letter..."wounded people wound people"...so don't be too discouraged if he is unable to receive it in the spirit you intended.

I hope he is able to and that healing can take place.

Take Care,
Don

Mar 23, 2010
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Nice work
by: Mxkx

I can only say that I wish my mother wrote me a similar letter. I think you did a very good job expressing yourself even if your son is not able to appreciate the setiments expressed at this time.

Mar 22, 2010
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Getting real with myself
by: Kathleen D. Cone

I hope you gathered from the letter I wrote to my Son that I was not trying to do more than take some pressure of abandonment off his shoulders as I work to overcome my own abandonment issues and regardless of his behavior felt it was only fair to not leave him hanging in the void of abandonment so his problems got worse while I was working on helping myself get better.

That's the last thing in the world I want for my son... Instead I want to hopefully be able to break the cycle in my lifetime, if possible.

My Son has no children of his own, yet... so I feel like there is still hope..

Kathy

Mar 22, 2010
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Letter to my Son
by: Kathleen D. Cone

I think it's very important to take responsibility for the part we play in the cycle of abuse that is often handed down from generation to generation. As Don explains more specifically the Iceburg modle to try and focus not on your childs problems but the problems brought on you as a child by your own parents.

In as much as my Son is no angel, he has his own issues some that have to do with me and some that don't.. I thought posting the letter I wrote to him was important in this "Im not okay, you're not okay" scenario. I did not write "dear 'son'"

Dear ____

I know I've told you in the past it often takes me a while to understand what others are trying to say to me. To process the information beyond my initial emotional response.

And, after talking with ____(my husband) about some of the things you and I discussed on the phone he did mention that as far back as he can remember it is true that I tended to openly talk about my own personal problems a lot.. (that in fact I talked about myself constantly) Whether you were there or not and that he can understand why as a 9 year old (that's as far back as _____ and my relationship goes in relationship to his knowing you) that he can understand why you would feel that it was not fair to you as a child to have to be subject to my extroverted way of just talking about my family and problems too openly for a young boy and that it likely worried you , consciously or subconsciously and effected your childhood, unnecessarily.

I want to apologize for that. I know you understand that I did not intentionally try to do anything to hurt you. But, that does not change the reality of the fact that it likely made you feel like you were in many ways robbed of your childhood.

You are not a child now, of course, but my neediness has been an ongoing problem that you should not have to deal with, even now. I'm seeking professional help and looking for healthier ways of getting my needs met and hope that in the long run I can finally get over myself and move on in life.

I wanted to write this note to you, because I thought it only fair to tell you that I understand now what you were saying to me. Or at least I think I do and I don't want you to have to defend yourself to me anymore, about the truth of this issue. I hope that helps.

I'm okay with just being and not having to be your family or mom or any of those things since it's obvious I was wrapped up in my own problems for so long, I can see why you think, speak and appear to feel the way you do...

As time goes by, and with a good counselor I think I can get a better handle on things.

I know you talked to me about a lot more than just this one thing, but I just want to address this 'one' thing for now. .. If nothing else to take some pressure off you in the meantime.

K.

Mar 21, 2010
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Thank you mxkx
by: Kathleen D. Cone

Dear mxkx,

I read, and reread what you posted and it helped me to feel encouraged to know that you having experienced something similiar understand where I am coming from.

The part you wrote about my son losing a mother got to me... that part I feel has been part of my son's problem with me all his life... When I couldn't handle things ... I'd quit... like I did that time before and we didn't speak for 5 years.

I do need to live my own life seperate of my sons and he needs me to live my own life seperate of him in many ways too.... but abandonment goes both ways in our case.

So I did write him a letter addressing just one of the things he said to me on the phone, that was true and I didn't want to be reminded, in an effort to let him know that 'I heard what he said' to me and to take pressure off the "abandonment" issues I know he is experiencing as well.

I'm not going back into my relationship him until I get the help I need to move forward (or in a way to get over myself) and am more emotionally stable.

But I didn't want things to just hang in the air and he be left 'abandoned' again so I thought it merciful to write what I did, to hopefully take some pressure off him, so he can mature and grow and not have one more thing to worry him in life.

Again, I'm not going back right now... instead I am going forward and with help from people like you, who have insights that we can all share with each other.. I just know in the long run some life can be made much better.

At least, want to believe that.
Thank you for caring enough to respond to my post!

Kathy

Mar 20, 2010
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I can relate
by: mxkx

Wow. Your post sounds like my interactions with my husband but in your case it's your son, which seems to make things drastically different. While I may reject my husband's behavior, he's still just lost a wife and love factor aside I can be replaced. With you however rejecting your son's behavior results in him losing a mother - someone that absolutely cannot be replaced.

Okay, first of all, the whole "I'm okay but I'm not and you're not okay" ordeal sounds a lot like someone in the grips of an addiction. This is exactly the stance my husband takes on when he's in the midst of a relapse. He wants me to believe he's fine when I find out he's relapsed and leave things be when he and they are most obviously not fine. If I point that out he switches to "I'm not okay" and tries to exact my pity or he uses "I'm not okay" to coerce me in to doing something for him or giving him something. The entire time though he holds the stance of "you're not okay" - either I'm overreacting, I'm apathetic, or I'm selfish.

Second of all I think that the way you are reacting at this point is perfectly normal (at least, I reacted the same way at one point in the recovery process). When I first recognized the behavior, I was so horrified and fed up that I completely rejected it and the person along with it no matter who it was. Strangely enough I look back now and realize that this actually had to be done in order for me to move on in my own recovery process... it is very hard to modify your own behavior when you have others around you knowingly or unknowingly pushing you to stick with the old behavior. It's also like a strange sort of purging. Clearing out the old to figure out what's going to be new. This may not be the end for you and your son's relationship but a new beginning.

I'm sure Don will be along soon with something more in depth, but I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone on this journey. :)

Mar 16, 2010
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Two Icebergs Floating in the Same Ocean...
by: Don

Hi Kathy, I just wanted to say I hear your pain and you are in my thoughts. I'll write more later after you've have some time to feel your way through this and get some feedback from others.

Don

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