Crazy Stress

Part 1: Home

I haven’t had this amount of stress since my divorce.  It’s pretty intense.  But the difference is I have a woman of godly character and grace and strength standing with me through it, and as a result it’s nowhere near as bad as the child custody trials I had to keep my kids safe.  So over the past couple years my oldest son has been getting more and more outrageous in his disrespect and disobedience.  It’s really funny when you talk to him and get the impression that we are tyrannical control freaks.  But we are so easy going, and all we ask of him is to be kind.  Seriously.  That’s it.  But because we follow through with restrictions for disrespect, he has lost every privilege he has ever had.  Though he could get them all back in a matter of months if he would just… be nice. 

Complicating the issue are some scary psychological phenomena he has experienced.  He says he hears voices telling him negative things.  For a while there he was researching schizophrenia hardcore, learning everything about it, writing fictional stories and screenplays about it.  He seemed to really WANT to have it.  He inherited my flair for the dramatic, and took it to a whole new level.  His doctor and regular councilor both looked into it, gave him preliminary tests and agreed that he does not have it.  He stormed out of the GP’s office yelling that the doctor didn't know what he was talking about.  Both professionals say that when they tried to get specifics from him that all they got were text-book answers.  Which is not a surprise considering all the text books he was researching.  Furthering our skepticism is the fact that all his claims revolve around getting his privileges back.  And whenever he loses privileges for being disrespectful, suddenly it becomes a big issue
Now when I talk about disrespect, I’m not talking typical teenage stuff like rolling of the eyes or staying out too late.  I mean yelling “Fuck you asshole!” in our faces.  Throwing things, looming over Heather while making demands.  Telling his brother that he will kill him.  Telling us that he will be respectful of any other authority but ours.  He has truly become a righteous warrior of justice in his own mind, taking a stand for what is right against all odds.  He has embraced the persecution as he defies the tyrannical system he is under.  A real martyr. 

I heard someone say that the single biggest justification for evil is the idea that one is oppressed.  Because once you’ve built the narrative that you are suffering unjustly, almost any action on your part is justified.  This is truly the case here.  And he has spread this narrative to anyone who will listen.  Friends at school, their parents, his school councilor, etc.  He did such a good job of this that someone called Child Protective Services, and we underwent an investigation for abuse.  Once the agent got the full picture she knew instantly what was going on, and we are all clear.  When that failed him, he got really desperate and had to take it to a new level.  He started lightly scratching his wrists, and called it suicide attempts.  Of course no one can truly know the mind of another, but I would bet my own life that he would never commit suicide.  He truly, deeply loves himself.  He loves being with others, he loves doing things, being creative, and has not shown ANY signs of depression.  Only anger.  But he knew the magic words, and walked to our local mental hospital and told them he had a plan to commit suicide.  This was right after we had to call the police because he was trashing his bedroom and refusing to leave, so I physically removed him from the home.  So we got a call from the ER saying he had been checked in.  We went and got evaluated yet again by an agent at the hospital.  That agent, and our son’s doctor at the ER, and the police officer who was present and hearing all the facts, all agreed that this was a stunt, a power play.  So he’s discharged, and now he’s no better off than before, so he tried again, this time there was room for him at the mental hospital, so he got to spend a week there, getting lots of attention and time away from his horrible abusive parents.  He made some friends, got a ‘girlfriend’ and had lots of therapy.  We attended a parents workshop there, and two additional counseling sessions with the head doctor.  Which means I had to take a lot of time off work at the worst possible time.  (more on that later.)  The staff and doctor all agreed with every other adult who has looked into the situation.  He’s a kid using the system in an attempt to gain control.  But clearly, there is something deeply wrong with any kid who will go that far to do it.  So there is clearly need for more therapy.  After that he was stepped down to a day program, and eventually discharged.  Heather had to go pick him up, and when she did she wanted to clarify that when he got home he was not to continue to harass our younger son by shoving his scratched up wrist in his face and going on and on about how desperate he is and how terrible we are.  Well that was enough to set him off and right there at the hospital, in front of everyone, he threw his notebook at her.

And nothing has got better.  We didn’t give him his notebook full of really disgusting things back, and that set him off again.  He is holding our home hostage to his outbursts and threats, and we have no legal rights to do anything.  The one good thing about the CPS investigation, is the agent was truly sympathetic to our plight and has been helping us contact other agencies that might be able help us.  We really believe that he needs to get out of the house and into a different system.  A new context, so that he can learn that he’s bringing his own problems with him.  So he can’t continue to blame us for everything, and spend all his energy attempting to wrest control from us.  He seems to be really attracted to the losers of society.  I don’t mean that in a judgmental way.  I literally mean, ‘those who lose’ in life.  I think he’s going to need to run with the losers long enough to realize that they are that way because most of them really can’t do better for themselves.  But he CAN do better.  He’s very intelligent and resourceful and creative.  All qualities that most losers lack.  The only thing that will keep a loser is his unwillingness to drop the martyrdom act.  But that’s something that we simply can’t do for him.
Like the baby bird jabbing at mamma bird harder and harder, he is begging to get bumped out of the nest.  He’s hurt everyone around him so deeply I fear that relationships are permanently dead.  Certainly with Heather, probably with his brother.  As his father I will never give up on him.  I will always hope for the best for him, and try my best to provide what I can to help him in hopefully the best way.  I’m always praying for wisdom.

Part 2: Health

Heather has been declining in health since I've known her.  If you look at a chart of the human body and point at any location I can tell you what has been wrong, or is wrong with it.  I’m not being hyperbolic.  I am totally serious.  I literally cannot think of any body part that hasn't had some mundane or bizarre problem, from chronic migraines to fibromyalgia to tear duct stones requiring two separate surgeries that pulled her face apart.  Some crazy inner ear thing that required tubes.  Ingrown toenails that required 5 or 6 surgical procedures before the damn things would stop stabbing her.  Heart problem.  Gall stones, so she had surgery to remove it.  Then she STILL got gall stones in the little duct that is left over!  Screwed up back.  Loss of bone density in her spine.  And I could seriously keep going, but that’s not the point.  I just wanted to prove that I’m not being hyperbolic this one time in my life.  Oh, and here’s a really amazing fact.  My brother/roommate has this rare degenerative disease called ankylosing spondylitis, where your immune system attacks the joints in the spine and pelvis.  Mostly men get it.  It’s very rare.  Heather has it.  That’s two cases in one house.  Amazing, you say?  Wait, there’s more!  Over the past couple of years I've been experiencing pain when I sit in any position for longer than five minutes or so.  I have to shift around all the time because it feels like my tail bone is getting crushed.  And when I get up it hurts even more, like it’s decompressing.  So I finally go to a rheumatologist, get my blood and x-rays, and a couple days later get a nonchalant call from the nurse who leaves a message telling me, ‘oh yeah, looks like you have ankylosing spondylitis, better come in and get drugs for it.’.

I suppose hearing you have a degenerative disease with no cure would normally bum a person out.  But honestly, living with two people in chronic pain, and being married to a woman who is so far on the bell curve of unlucky physical problems they need to make a bigger graph… well, I guess that puts it in perspective.  That, or my brain just isn't in a place to process the news due to my son blowing up the family, my wife in constant pain, and…

Part 3: Work

Ok, so this part is a lot more of a mixed bag than the last two parts.  I had this idea back in October, that I wanted to make an entire level in Guild Wars 2 that is one giant jumping puzzle game.  I started making little jumping challenges in GW2 as soon as we had jumping in the engine.  Guild Wars 1 did not have jumping so I was always frustrated at how hard it was to hide secrets, which is one of the greatest joys of my career.  So I had this idea to make a level that was an homage to classic 8 and 16 bit platform and adventure games.  Well enough people in positions of power liked my idea to give me a chance to experiment with it for a bit, and I even got a little team to help me.  Well, it started looking really, really good and really, really fun.  During the first couple weeks we were trying to nail down the art style with the environment art lead and the art director.  This was tricky, because trying to evoke the look of old low resolution two dimensional art in a three dimensional engine is no easy task.  In a way, we were TRYING to make things look crude and unsophisticated.  A lot of art in those old games was made by programmers after all!

<<>> I had a long in-depth description of some internal company politics that would be inappropriate to have as 'public' information, so suffice it to say that a couple days ago my dream project came within a hairs-breadth of being canceled at the last moment, then un-canceled, then maybe canceled again within a couple hours, and it is currently unknown.

Yesterday I gave a presentation of my project to the whole company.  I half expected to have a cane snatch me from offstage at any moment.  But the presentation went really well and I got more applause than any other presentation we've had with the exception of the profit sharing meeting. 

So now we are locking down, and still unsure about our fate.  I’m so exhausted and… I guess stressed. 
On the plus side we got a very generous bonus because Guild Wars 2 has been doing very well.  So we can pay off one of our student loans, and maybe go on a modest vacation… after we figure out what’s going to happen with our teen tyrant. 


Matt said…
I might be wrong (I'm not), but I think an excellent strategy to deal with your asshole kid would be to show him abuse in the most unimaginably severe way. It may help him understand the difference.

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