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I am not strong

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caregiver9000 posted 8/28/2013 21:50 PM

I don't know where to start. Not at the beginning. How about the middle?

Weekly therapy for the kids today. We've been going for awhile. I got the sense last week that it was looking like "me" more than the "kids." I got that again today. A lot more bluntly.

Ok, what he said was that I "vibrate." That I have so much anger (whoo, he should have seen me a year ago, or two!) and that my constant need to correct, fix, undo, compensate for the absolute train wreck of a father I picked for my kids is causing them anxiety. They are trying to "protect me" or they go into sympathetic mode/anxiety in response to my moods.

I got that the "wonder woman" syndrome is literally draining me dry and that I can't keep it up and I should stop trying. That it is a classic trauma response.

I got that "I am a phenomenal parent, with a highly successful career and I survived hell" and I put a "but" after it. He said I heard a fix it message and it was not a fix it message.

So this middle followed the soccer tryout day for DS12. He was slow. He was "last" in all the running and there was a lot of running. He was sopping wet and noodle legged when I picked him up. And we went straight to therapy.

Tomorrow is day two of tryouts and he doesn't want to do it. I gave all the "don't quit" and "it gets easier the more you do it" messages. He argues that it isn't fun and he has assessed his ability and he is out of his league.

I don't know if he is afraid to fail? If it was too hard? He did not condition any this summer. He elected not to do a week long soccer camp. This may not be important to him. He wants to continue with Y soccer but does not want to suffer through this particular team/practice regimen.

I showed him the "don't quit" motivational clip from "Facing the Giants." I cried through the whole thing.

I managed to choke out that sometimes others see in us things that we don't see in ourselves and wondered if that was a message we both needed to hear?

He is crying because he doesn't want to disappoint me. He doesn't want his friends to be let down. And he doesn't want his dad to be mad. What is the difference in those concerns... hmmm?

I left it at bedtime with "I trust you to make the right decision." And I do. I have put the work in with that child. At 12, he has the right to make this call. He said he wished I could comfort him with his decision. He is not going to stay tomorrow afternoon.

I asked him if he wanted to take his gear and call me if he changed his mind. He said he did not want to be indecisive and worry excessively over it like he does everything.

Back to therapy. DS9 wants to quit. He told therapist. And we both think it is because they are getting to close to something "uncomfortable." But therapist to let it go and to leave the door open. That the kids are "okay."

He also said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. We all heard that when we were getting over dday right? But he meant my kids. He said they are mostly indifferent about dad and that is part of why dad is pushing so hard right now.

He also said that the kids only need one safe parent/adult. One solid grounded caring adult. And to let go and breathe. Not "wonder woman" through everything.

So pretty much I have been teary and weepy for the last four hours.

Sparkles posted 8/28/2013 22:13 PM

You are strong. The way you are handling the situation - work, you ex, your son's soccer worries, therapy - is amazing.

I know that some days after dealing with all the fall out of my stbx's behavior it seems like on top of doing everything for the kids we spend so much time doing damage control. Its inspiring to see there are still people like you around. Not only are you strong, you also seem quite thoughtful, loving and compassionate.


Take2 posted 8/28/2013 22:23 PM


Just lots and lots and lots of hugs and a song for you tonight:

Nature_Girl posted 8/28/2013 22:23 PM

It's exhausting being everything to everyone. You're not supposed to do that. Your kids will be okay if you step back a bit. I know it's a struggle to deliberately dial back the panic & trauma responses which, for us, are normal and automatic. It can be done, though. I'm doing it. I know you can do it, too.

nowiknow23 posted 8/28/2013 22:31 PM

(((((caregiver)))))) Sweetie - you are SO strong. You really are, even if you don't feel it.

Dreamboat posted 8/28/2013 22:35 PM


Oh sweetie

What a hard evening!

First, trust DS12. He wants to love the sport and for whatever reason he thinks that the team he tried out for today will not contribute to his love of the sport. I respect that.

As for the messages from the therapist, I don't know what to say. I think all of the things he pointed out are very typical response to a spouse who has been mostly abandoned. We ARE angry. We DO want to protect the kids. We DO compensate for the dickheads who sperm-donored our kids. We ARE on double-triple alert to "fix" things. We ARE wonder woman because we HAVE to be wonder woman.

Trying to put a positive spin on this, well at least he pointed out some things you can work on?

But he meant my kids. He said they are mostly indifferent about dad and that is part of why dad is pushing so hard right now.

I think this is the absolute truth. When my DD hated X, he avoided her like the plague. Now she could not care less about him and he is kinda pushy in his once a month emails (I know that sounds funny...) But now DD just strong arms him like Bo Jackson going thru a defensive line (can you tell I love college football?? and football season starts on Saturday??!!!)

My only advice to you is that now that your kids are indifferent towards the x asshole, let it go. There is not longer a "need" to try to encourage their relationship with him, because they just don't care anymore. The way I dealt with this is to never even mention X (or his family) unless DD brings it up. And even then, I usually just respond with bland pleasantries like "That's nice".

Get some rest. Try not to think about this until you can carve some quiet time out for yourself.

And (((more hugs)))

Phoenix1 posted 8/28/2013 22:35 PM

You are stronger than you give yourself credit for, but you are right that you don't need to be Wonder Woman all the time. You will exhaust yourself trying.

When I filed last week I was an emotional mess and simply couldn't hold it together. I tried to be alone, but both DD22 and DS20 ended up being home at separate times and I couldn't hold it together. My DS20 told me that I didn't have to be strong all the time, and just hearing him say that made me feel a little relieved, even if the tears kept flowing. Let yourself have some emotional down time.

[This message edited by Phoenix1 at 10:38 PM, August 28th (Wednesday)]

CheaterMagnet posted 8/28/2013 22:53 PM


Sweetie, you've got to cut yourself a break. You sound like an amazing mother and you are doing everything humanly possible to help your boys through this. The key word being, "HUMANLY." That's all any of us can do. If you keep trying to be super-human you will flame out. And it can get ugly. Trust me. I know.

Hang in there doll. Lean on us when you need to. We can carry you for awhile.

ruinedandbroken posted 8/28/2013 23:03 PM


You are a great mom and you are stronger than you realize.

SBB posted 8/29/2013 00:16 AM

Strong doesn't mean unfeeling mamma. I course you're going to have feelings about your kids!!!

Mother guilt mixed in with your own grieving healing. I understand it all too well.

ICs are supposed to be the impartial observer - they are making observations, not judgement.

Whatever it is we think we do 'wrong' it comes from a place of love and good intentions. We grow and learn on the job. Neither we nor they are born with manuals.

You're learning on the job. Your learning what your limitations are (v. important!), you're seeing the green shoots of who your little boys are becoming - the men they will be and you're getting to know them.

Nothing negative here mamma - all good stuff. Learning, growing, developing, emerging, healing - all of you. All good stuff.

((CG)) strong feelings are good too.

Kajem posted 8/29/2013 00:27 AM

It's ok to trust his decision even if you don't agree with it. He's growing up he may love the sport, and love to play. But he may also not like the competition that comes with a school team. There IS a lot of pressure on school teams-if you screw up the school knows. It is anxiety provoking.

You are a great mom. I hate to say it, but he's teaching you (in small ways) to respect his decision to decide something you don't agree with. It's going to be one of many decisions he will make that you won't agree with. It sounds like he is realistic in his assessment of his skills. It will be a strong kid at 14, who can go against his friends and not join them in a group setting.

I'm thinking the lesson he learned was not to let your skills get rusty over the summer.

Hugs. Mama -you want them to grow up to be independent. But we never are ready for when they take that first step toward it.

I think you're raising an outstanding young man.


Griefstricken25 posted 8/29/2013 00:38 AM


Take your therapist's words to heart. There is no "but". You are doing amazing. Period.

Compartmented posted 8/29/2013 08:21 AM


I read your thread title and said, "Oh, Caregiver, you are too strong!" You've posted some amazing stuff on here!

Regarding the soccer, I'd say respect ds's decision. He's younger than my children were when the ddays started coming, but I still think he's old enough to decide this, based on what you've written. I've seen kids go in and out of playing soccer, and I've seen some who just don't want to play on the highly competitive teams based on what they've seen.

Back to therapy. DS9 wants to quit. He told therapist. And we both think it is because they are getting to close to something "uncomfortable." But therapist to let it go and to leave the door open. That the kids are "okay."

He also said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. We all heard that when we were getting over dday right? But he meant my kids. He said they are mostly indifferent about dad and that is part of why dad is pushing so hard right now.

He also said that the kids only need one safe parent/adult. One solid grounded caring adult. And to let go and breathe. Not "wonder woman" through everything.

Regarding quitting therapy, my one bit of advice there is not to quit completely, but reduce it a lot instead, if that's the right direction. My sons both had a therapist who told me they were fine and could come back to him when they wanted, but they needed to go back and did not. So reduce, vs. stop, because they can still just "check in" that way. This is especially important, in my opinion, as their father continues to push.

As for the rest, I've had to step back and let my children grow up faster than I'd like. I've been told that my children are at risk of repeating what they learned at home, which is addiction/co-addiction and abuse/denial of abuse. So that scares the crap out of me. I've been told the best thing I can do is model healthy recovery for them. So I work at that with a passion, which is actually great because then I benefit as well. I keep reading and going to therapy, and I go to Al-Anon at least weekly. I don't know if you have ever had any alcoholics in your life or not, but the meetings are all about how to deal with the chaos in your life in a better way, regardless of why you show up. Sometimes people are affected by a grandparent's drinking, because their own parent was raised by an alcoholic and thus affected. At any rate, this is a wonderful place to hear how others are learning to cope in a better fashion. Most of the time what we are coping with is general life shit, not what an alcoholic is currently doing. You don't have to share; you can sit and listen. Many's the time I sat and cried and said nothing. They just pass the Kleenex and give you a hug after the meeting.

Here's a virtual hug {{{ CG }}}.

You're doing GREAT!!!

edited to add another thought

[This message edited by Compartmented at 8:24 AM, August 29th (Thursday)]

caregiver9000 posted 8/29/2013 17:15 PM


I stayed awake last night long enough to have a good ole bawl fest. I mean hard crying, until my head was all swollen and my eyes were red. Every comment here has moved me and I love you all for it.

Something has cracked and between being exhausted and having emotions pulled to the surface, I have cried quite a bit in the last 24 hours. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I tend to have a lock on the vulnerable side.

I second and third guessed my decision today. Of course there were plenty of people who believe I should not have allowed him to quit. That I let him "give up." DS will encounter some of this as well, and he knew it when he was trying to decide.

I have returned to your words over and over. THANK YOU. Because this is the place I need to be with my son. I do not want to put him in a place to "fake" sick or injury to get out of something he doesn't want to do. I don't want him to fail to try next time because I have taught him that trying is committing.

He did not quit. Quitting would be sitting out after the first mile run. Maybe he was saving face or peer pressure made him keep going but he kept going.

And I watched him struggle with what to do. He did not just decide it was too hard. At one point he said, "I want to quit, but I might need to see it through." He agonized over this decision and it was hard to watch!

We talked about tough choices being a part of growing up. And DS9 muttered he might just want to stay 9...

I work with teens. I know that we are delusional if we (adults) think we can control them. The best we can do is model, inspire, bribe, and lay the groundwork for smart choices. We can talk and listen. We can form relationships that involve respect and caring and a desire to live up to the person we think they are. And then trust/pray/hope they make smart choices.... most of the time, in the face of very challenging counter influences.

All in all, what to do about a soccer team tryout is a low risk place to let him learn some independence. To see what making a hard choice for yourself feels like.

DS was well aware what my choice for him would have been. It sparked a deep concern that I would be disappointed in him. I got the chance to tell him that I would love him no matter what choice he made. It really was his choice to make. I made sure he had all the angles, had considered the risk/benefits as I saw them.

I picked him up after school today. He thanked me for letting him decide for himself. I asked him what he would tell the coach if he asked why he didn't come out today? DS said, "the truth." I asked what the truth was. "I didn't think I was ready." Interesting truth. And not what DS is prepared to give his father. His first choice is to avoid it. His second is to say he didn't make the team. His third choice is to say he didn't feel well today.

All in all I want to continue to be the adult he respects enough to give truth. This gives me some way to frame that letting him quit was ok. Because it wasn't letting him quit. It was letting him choose his own path. And telling him I knew he was qualified to make that choice. I feel good about that statement.

Not stopping therapy vs. cutting way back is very sound advice. Thank you. I will try to implement this strategy when we get to that point.

I asked DS12 if he would quit therapy if DS9 quit. DS12 countered with "what do you want me to do?" I think he was trying to accommodate me, sort of giving back what he got yesterday. I said only he knew if it was helping. DS12 said he was going to keep going. I think he might be trying to please me, but he got to choose again, and if his reasons are sometimes because it is what mom would want, those can be valid reasons.

I asked DS9 what he was going to do while DS12 and I both did therapy? Wait in the lobby the whole time? Seems like given those options, DS9 thinks continuing to "talk" is preferable to "waiting." But we might cut back the frequency to make it less intrusive on their time and to give some space for processing and to let stuff happen they want to talk about.

Thank you ALL for carrying me. For encouraging me to lean. For the kind words and reassurances. I have read every response more than a dozen times. I might print them and carry them in my purse for awhile.

cmego posted 8/29/2013 17:56 PM


First, you are an amazing woman, mother, friend.

Second, you are still holding onto some pain from your past. Totally understandable, but at some point you are going to have to work on letting go...without perfection.

I think we all go through cycles, bumps in the road, and many of us are carrying the big loads on our backs alone. We were supposed to do parenting with a partner, and we aren't. We are mother, father, friend all rolled into one. Just showing how much you care about your kids proves what an amazing parent you are. This isn't for sissies.

I read somewhere, "Behind every great kid is a parent who thinks they are screwing up." You have great kids. You do.

Cut yourself some slack, my friend. Maybe there is something coming to the surface for you too. Time to face it so you can let it go.

hexed posted 8/29/2013 18:27 PM


you're an awesome mom. you're listening to your DS12 on more than just a superficial level. you have really heard him and given him power over his choices. My son was EXACTLY the same way with soccer. He loves rec soccer but the super competitive leagues weren't fun for him.

I like how you handled the therapy with DS9. I've stopped and started IC several times over the years. Sometimes, a pause to process things or to build up strength for the next thing is needed.

You might feel like you're cracking but it seems like you're really doing great to me.

caregiver9000 posted 8/29/2013 18:32 PM

First, you are an amazing woman, mother, friend.

thank you. But I wish someone would tell me WHY every comment I read in this vein makes me instantly cry?

Time to face it so you can let it go.

This statement terrifies me. I can literally feel my eyes shuttering, my brain sliding sideways.

I no longer know exactly what "it" is? But I do think that my reaction to all of this has become who I am. I don't know how to be other than this reactionary being. I can see emotionally bruised children and I can empathize and rationalize and GIVE my care to their situation. But I can't turn that on myself. And I can't accept it. When I get that level of care and kindness, praise and hugs... I FALL APART. Every time.

I can receive praise for what I do. My job. What I say. Teaching or parenting. But I can't BE praiseworthy. I do some things really really well. But I am deeply flawed.

I am making my head hurt. I want to "bounce back" and put this bump behind me. Round here we call that "rug sweeping right?"

Sad in AZ posted 8/29/2013 20:07 PM

You know how you can tell that you are an amazing mother? Your son had the skills and ability to voice his concerns and make a very adult decision--and he was able to do this because you taught him well and you gave him the resources that he needed.

I wish I could say your work is done...but we know that never happens

kernel posted 8/29/2013 20:21 PM

Because it wasn't letting him quit. It was letting him choose his own path. And telling him I knew he was qualified to make that choice.

This is so amazing, CG. Your boys are lucky to have you.

I imagine the crying and emotional outbursts you are having are a reaction to stress overload. Sooner or later, you just have to release some of it and crying is a good way to do it. And part of it is being told that your kids are okay - that's got to be a relief, even when you are still so worried about them. And of course some of it is parental guilt because we never frickin' get rid of that, never. Maybe a little of it is because your boy is growing up and it's so stinking hard to let go, even a little. And because you are an awesome parent, you know you have to do it even if it hurts.

I still remember, and always will, the day my youngest DD insisted on riding the children's carnival ride BY HERSELF. I put all caps because that's how adamant she was about it. So, that was one little letting go that simultaneously makes you so proud and so sad. The same kind of letting go that you just went through with your son.

You're doing great CG. So cry a little more, let it out. You are strong, but you're also human - not super human.

cmego posted 8/29/2013 20:22 PM

Maybe it is time to dig deep into therapy. I believe that we deal with "it" when we have the emotional ability to I think you are tired of being this way, the reactionary, and you want to change. I think the tears are clueing you in to a "soft spot". Dig, chick!

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