Sunday 23 September 2012

Independence and conflict

In less than a week since he left  university Ben has already independently set himself a stack of challenges and completed them. And, increasingly, I am saying: "You have to do this yourself; I can't do it for you" or "Sorry I can't do that; I am busy". Occasionally I will throw the odd suggestion into the pot... potential activities he isn't aware of, for example local debating or history groups - and then leave it to him to do the groundwork.

Already this week Ben has applied for jobs - and has a first interview tomorrow morning. He has applied to be a volunteer in his favourite political party, enquired about becoming a singer in a tribute band and is planning a regular Thursday night activity to do with his Warhammer hobby.

Meanwhile I'm here to offer encouragement and positive thinking.

But, as Ben said earlier this week without any prompting: "I'm aware that, at this stage, it's important that we all start to live independently. You and dad pursue your interests and I'll pursue mine."

Meanwhile we need to get some additional therapy for Ben: to tidy up the remaining loose ends of the eating disorder and work on his social anxiety, self-esteem and confidence - and encourage independence. Unfortunately this means going back to our GP and getting a referrel, but if he refuses or it's going to be a long wait, then we will go private.

Also, meanwhile, there's the problem of how Ben's dad is coping with all this. Or not coping. He sees the quitting of university as a major disappointment which reinforces his concern that Ben will never completely recover - that he'll never be able to socialise properly, never be able to hold down a university course or a job, never be able to break free from rigid eating and will end up as a lonely recluse. In other words, it's all doom and gloom, and we're wasting our time. "The problem is," he said angrily, "Ben's had it all handed to him on a plate. He's never had it tough. He needs to get out there and live in the real world for a change". Etc etc etc...

Yesterday there was quite a bit of private "effing and blinding" coming from my husband's shed as he took his frustrations out on the leaking roof he was patching. There were also threats to leave if things didn't improve because he'd "had enough" and "want my effing life back"...

Ben was well aware of this and sat gloomily in the living room, convinced he is a disappointment to his dad. "I'm not the rugby-playing son he wanted - the boy who has loads of friends, gets into all kinds of scrapes and gets drunk" in response to my husband's "When I was your age I was out with my mates doing this, that and the other..." plus the ever-present fear that Ben will end up like my H's brother who has a lot of issues and always has had.


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