Excellent KatieG. You have a very intelligent kid on your hands there. You should be proud.
You are doing so well with this!! Opening and maintaining lines of communication with him will have to be paramount. It's going to require balance though. You don't want to smoother him to the point where he won't show you if GM IM's him. You want to be able to see those text's. I would tell DS, that if she does do that, that the plan will be for the two of you to sit down and analyze them together. That it's important to you to know how he feels. And that you can make the decision on what to do together...BUT DS has to know that ultimately you are the parent and reserve the right to pull the plug on any situation. Let him know that this is for both of your protection.
He said that if it took me all this time to work out what she has been doing how can I be 100%.
Excellent question. One that I'm sure we have all asked ourselves. Our response... We grew up thinking that GM's behavior was normal. That her making us feel the way that we do was something that everybody goes through. It wasn't until we started talking with other people later that we realized that this is NOT something that everyone goes through. That this is not in fact normal. And in fact has left us with a lot of emotional pain. We just don't/didn't know how to express this pain and we had to bury it deep inside us for a very long time until we couldn't keep it in anymore. I know my pain started coming out when I look at my kids. One of the things that has really opened my eyes is that when I look at my kids, I think how could you. I would never do that to my own children. THAT, for me anyway, is a big part of why it took me so long to figure out what GM is. Is GM's benavior something that you would do to your own child. I think the answer to that is NO but it wasn't until we started to realize that we wouldn't do that, that we started to break the cycle, is how we realized what GM was is.
A lot of time spent trying to work out how to "fix" GM and surely people can change.
This is an excellent question/statement as well. Talk to him about empathy. Explain what empathy is (an adult learned emotion) and how it's being able to put yourself in someone's shoes and actually feel their hurt. That you KNOW what that person is going through. Explain that empathy is something that gets developed later in life. Later in teenage years and in some early 20's. I bet your DS has more empathy than GM at age 12!!! Empathy gets developed through experiences and holding yourself accountable. That someone that is older and who never developed this adult human emotion of empathy are very stunted in their emotional growth and do not have the ability to learn it because another emotion got in the way. That emotion in empathy's place is called selfishness. The reason empathy is impossible for someone to learn is because selfishness will push away empathy every time. That being selfish cannot recognize other people's pain/hurts. That being selfish becomes their identity. That being emotionally manipulative is BECAUSE they are selfish and are always trying to get what they want in life. That it's all about them all the time. This is why empathy cannot be learned because they cannot be bothered, because of their selfishness, to learn empathy.
Or something along those lines anyway. I have that little speech (or something like it) on reserve for when the moment presents itself.