Krissie: Somedays You Eat the Bear

I’m inside today. It rained.
My favorite minister had a saying. I think it was based on a joke about someone talking to a man with a performing bear act in a circus, and he asked how hard it was. The answer was, “somedays you eat the bear, somedays the bear eats you.”
Yesterday the bear at me. After a marvelous afternoon with the Avengers and dinner at Olive Garden, things came crashing down with a vengeance. My child had a crisis, my son was blowing up at home, yelling over the phone at his GF for an hour while Richie just kept out of the way, and I fell apart at this end. We have a real, intrinsic need for Jenny & Lani & I to go to the aquarium together, plus i simply couldn’t face packing. Couldn’t face moving. Even a rewatching of Simon Baker in “Something New” couldn’t do it for me.
So I’m a mess. I was too worn out to make up my mind when to fly out — Thursday or Saturday or Monday. Monday’s the cheapest. I hate like hell to leave Richie on the front lines but he told me to take as long as I need (and was surprised when I said I’d come back on Thursday — he encouraged me to stay longer. Richie is the finest man in the universe).
So. Like Martin Luther, here I sit, I shall not be moved. (Jenny and I both grew up as Lutherans). I need to stop crying all the time. I need to calm down and sort myself out today, figure out a plan, etc. Sweetness graduates today so I think I’ll hunker down and work while they go to the graduation. I’ll get the proposal finished and then start in on the new book, I’ll lose myself in my world. And I’ll figure out how the hell to deal with my world falling apart around me.
When children are little they want to run away from home but they don’t have the wherewithal. Richie and I really really want to run away from home. From our kids and responsibilities — we just need to get the hell out of Dodge. But we can’t. Because somewhere along the way, when we weren’t looking, we became grown-ups. We can’t run away.
So I’ll look at cheap flights and see what I can do about my meds. And soldier on.

58 thoughts on “Krissie: Somedays You Eat the Bear

  1. Oh Krissie, I’m sorry. I want to run away too, but my kids are too young to leave at this point, and I can’t afford to take them with me. So I stay.

    But you don’t have to be responsible for your son. He’s old enough to take care of himself. He needs to take himself to some kind of counseling/rehab and get off the emotional roller coaster himself. He needs to stop dragging you along with him. I would love to go talk to him – does he not understand what he’s doing to you?

    I’m glad you are there with your sisters and Richie is able to maintain without you. God Bless that man. Stay at chez Crusie and breathe. Then breathe some more. When you feel the glimmer of hope rekindling in your heart then you can think about making a plan.

    I’m sending FGBVs.

  2. I’m getting the impression son and GF feed off of each other. He’s screaming at her, not at you. She could hang up and not answer again. I went through a divorce with a man who thought he could yell at me until I did what he wanted. So I stopped answering the phone. Didn’t always work, but no one can treat you that way without your permission and your participation.

    As Kate said, they’re grown ups. Young grown ups, but grown ups all the same. How they handle whatever is between them is just that, between them. Your son is probably hurting, but that can go on for only so long. If this is their process, then they’ll go through it, as ugly as it may be, and come out the other side.

    You can’t fix it or change it or go through it for them. And I’m sure that’s what’s driving you crazy. Keep repeating, “Everything will be fine.” Because it will. Eventually. Your sensitivity and empathy for your son is understandable and even admirable, but you can’t let it eat you up. That’s not good for anyone.

  3. Kieran says:

    Bless your heart, Krissie! You’re going through so damned much. Your face is incredibly expressive. Each day I can see what’s happening, just by looking at your eyes.

    I know I’ve said this before, but grief about one of your children in trouble is, IMO, the greatest grief there is. I love my sisters to the moon and back, and I would hate to see them suffering, but somehow I know they can take anything and kick its ass. But with a child, no matter how old they are, there’s a part of you still holding that innocent baby in your arms, the little toddler, or the child, looking up at you with unfettered joy–a perfect promise of what life can be.

    But that promise can’t last. Innocence is *always* compromised. Gosh, it goes back to the story of Adam and Eve, or whatever creation story you’ve heard. It’s the definition of life, and I think that’s how those stories came about.

    Innocence will be tainted. Pain will invade the joy–will even suffocate it sometimes.

    It sounds so bleak to say that. But in facing that stark truth, you WILL find strength. This is where the worthwhile stuff of life lies. Aligning yourself with Truth brings freedom. And that freedom means freedom from the power of suffering to annihilate the spark of joy within you, the one that YOU still carry from your baby days, Krissie. It’s there. And it’s in your son. But only he can will himself to shift to where the truth of HIS life lies and re-discover that joy…he has to do it all on his own.

    It’s his right to decide when or how. Everyone must grant him the dignity to make his own choices.

    And for you, wonderful lady, I hope that you’ll let those tears wash you clean and bring you to acceptance–so you can nurture that little spark in you that we love so much–especially when it’s a roaring flame.

  4. Kieran says:

    Oh, sheesh, I got carried away with the spark/flame analogy, but I hope you get my drift!! :>D

  5. Alice says:

    Your son is an adult. He’s in pain but you know what? That’s what happens. It’s a part of life. He will get through it. Big break ups suck, but they are part of life for most young twenty somethings. He’s processing the break up. It happens.

    You take the time that you need. You’re clearly a great mother and took care of him when he needed you most. Right now, you need peace and Squalor on the River more than he or Richie need you right now.

  6. Krissie, down here when we go on vacation but don’t leave the area we call it a staycation. You and Richie can run away without leaving Vermont. You need to close the door on the part of the crises that rip you apart. It is not your job to fix.

  7. Ro says:

    {{{{Krissie}}}} So glad you have Richie’s support and Squalor to escape to. There are some wise words in the posts here. The only thing you can control is how you react, how you let circumstances affect you. Wish it were as easy to practice as it sounds.

  8. Lynn says:

    Hey, if Richie said he’s fine for longer, then believe him! You are loved, and when you are healthy all the people who love you get to bask in the glow. Stay as long as feels right.

    Sorry about the crisis (or crises). I agree with others: you cannot eliminate your son’s pain by taking it into yourself, and you cannot change his bad behavior by allowing it to poison your life. Cry, breathe, and heal, Krissie.

  9. Kieran says:

    My sister was with a well-known psychiatrist recently who told her that some people just feel a lot more deeply than others. It doesn’t mean the people who don’t feel as deeply are worse people–or better.

    A lot of sensitivity has nothing to do with choice. It’s a matter of nerve bundles. Each of us has our own set. Krissie, you definitely are a deeply sensitive person. So I do hope that you don’t beat yourself up for crying or moping or stewing or whatever.

    Medicate when you need to, forgive yourself every minute of every day, and remember that spark in you and the people you love. It’s your power.

  10. Me too! Bises, Krissie–hang in with the sisters and take comfort there. Your Richie is a prince among men…a keeper deluxe!

  11. No, they really need to get the hell out of there. Krissie’s family is like termites, they’ll eat through the door.
    I have offered to talk to them for her, but for some reason, she always declines.

  12. romney says:

    You don’t have to “need” more time out. You can want it, or like it or just do it for no reason. This is one occasion when you don’t have to justify it somehow, least of all to yourself. The people who care about you want you to be happy, by whatever means necessary.

  13. I know what it is to be torn up over a child. If we could rewrite the world, we would. But we can’t, and that is frustrating and painful and sometimes hysteria making and sometimes just plain hell. I’m sorry you’re in pain right now. Good for you for having the wisdom to go to where there is warrior love surrounding you and good for you for the loving husband at home. (And there are reasons you are so well loved you know).

  14. Most of us like to be in control of our own lives. But sometimes the people closest to us do know what’s best for us at a particular moment in time. Sounds like you neede a break and Ritchie is giving you the space/time you need. Maybe it isn’t the worst thing if you aren’t there to take on the crises – as others have noted, your son and DIL are adults and need to learn to manage their relationship themselves. Painful to watch from the sidelines, but you need to take care of yourself too. And let Jenny and Lani, who clearly love you, take care of you, even for a few more days.

  15. Office Wench Cherry says:

    I’m not a parent. I have no first hand knowledge of the pain that comes with watching your child be in pain and know you can’t to anything about it. I do, however, know how bad it feels to watch someone you love be in pain. It breaks my heart to watch my husband try and try and try and fail to please his parents and it makes me so angry at them I can barely stand to be in the same room with them at times. And it also makes me want to slap some sense into him. He’s been at it for 45 years, if he was going to succeed he would have done it already. That he can’t please them is their problem, not his.

    It sounds like you and Richie need to set some boundaries on your son’s behaviour. He’s an adult and he needs to act like it. No more temper tantrums. No more acting like a child. No more making life harder on other people. No more taking his anger out on the world. Breakups hurt but it sounds like things haven’t been all that smooth between he and his GF for a long while so this can’t have been a huge surprise to either of them.

    I also think that you need to figure out what you need to change in your own behaviour and in your reactions to your son’s problems. To figure out what you will and will not tolerate. I know it’s all very easy to say when you’re an outsider but it may be that the only way to get through this chaos is to step outside it. To say “I love you and I feel for your pain but until you’re ready to act like a civilized person I’m not going to talk to you” and back it up by leaving the room. Or the state.

    You also need to seperate *your* grief and sense of loss over the breakup from his. And figure out a way to let go of that need to protect and actively parent him. I know that need never goes away but if you spend all your time with him trying to solve his problems he’s never going to learn how to do it on his own. This might be the time for some of the un-fun part of parenting called tough love.

    These things can be hard on a parent with an over-developed sense of empathy and compassion. I know it’s not easy.

  16. Ylva Hedin says:

    Ah well but sometimes one have to move really… I really think that your family need you to move away. Becouse they need to go on without you.

    You need that too… you need to be just you without them. Your husband is a fantatsic man so take him, the cats and the things you love and move the hell out of that town… Move close to your sisters….

    I know I know, easier said than done. But I did it once, and if needed I do it again…

    take care now and let those who give you support and love fill your days!

  17. Alis says:

    Somehow I get the “Take off and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.” vibe.

    No offense, Krissie. I would’ve used the nuclear option (or the Jenny option, if you will) if I’d had it with MY family.

  18. Maria Powers says:

    Big hugs and we’re here no matter what you decide to do, but, you knew there was a but in there, right? But, kick arse and take names honey.

    Yes, the kids are in pain, but they don’t get to rain on your parade. You can tell him, “I love you and when you are running around screaming and avoiding your pain rather than dealing with it, you are not welcome here.”

    I’ve had to tell my kid that “No, you cannot come home until you’ve been in therapy for 6 months to a year. It isn’t fair to your children to be jerked around back and forth between here and their father.” Yep, it kicks you to the curb when the kid then looks at you and cries about how all I worry about is her kids. What about her. My reply wins me no points, “You are the grown up now and you do not come first anymore. Your job is to raise, protect and love your children. My job is to make sure you do that to the best of your abilities.”

    I am sorry that it comes at you all the way from Vermont. I’ve found that being away from it makes it better in many ways, but it doesn’t stop it. It is just easier to bear with it.

    STAY in Ohio until you are emotionally ready to go back. You do not have to be the punching bag for his pain. You won’t help if you go back and are not ready to deal. Yes, being where you are helps you, but it is also better for him.

  19. Look after yourself and Richie. After Jenny pitched in, I can’t help thinking of the DS as Termite-boy. He’s in his 20s…he needs to deal with his break-ups in his own way, and Lani and Jenny were absolutely right to pin you down and keep you pinned down away from the heat. And if I had a DH who was saying, Beloved, it is fine with me if you continue to hang out with the sisters of your soul who will look after you as well as I can and keep you protected from the Termite-Boy crazy going on chez nous, I would be staying through the weekend, booked on Monday’s cheap flight and determined to build up the inner resources to tell TB, look, sweets, I’m sorry it didn’t work out this time, but you had better do something productive with all the anger and the distress instead of taking it out on the world around you.

    TB needs to make his own way, you need to take the time to build the defenses that let you empathize without aiding and abetting. We kids, we have to grow up and take responsibility for ourselves. And we parents, we have to let them do that even as we wince and weep when they crash and burn. And pray that the damage is recoverable. There is a point where however much we love them, we cannot shield them. That hurts as a parent, especially when we remember the time it was so simple to pick them up and give them a cuddle, smear on the antiseptic cream, use a band-aid and the bo-bo would be all better.

    And all that Office Wench Cherry said. She speaks good sense.

  20. I feel in fairness to Serpent’s Tooth I should say that he wasn’t the problem yesterday. At least, he wasn’t Krissie’s problem yesterday.

    I like thinking of myself as a nuclear deterrent.

  21. Barbara Cameron says:

    Office Wench Cherry said some wonderful things. I’d like to add the following:

    I helped a longtime friend (30+ years) out by letting her stay at my house one winter. It was very hard on me. I need a lot of calm and quiet to write and to just live life. What I got was someone who literally was throwing up her arms (really, I’d never seen anyone do that!) and wailing about how she thought her marriage was in trouble. Her grown children (of which she had many) were always calling at inconvenient times and I’d hear turmoil in her voice because she had a hearing problem and would have to talk very loudly as together they confronted their latest crisis (and they had many). I was tense and upset in my own home. I’d come home after a day that included 3 hours on the interstate, a fulltime job teaching hard to manage teens, three evenings teaching college classes before getting home, and have to listen to her litany about problems while I tried to cook and eat my dinner … then go in my home office and try to finish a requested manuscript. Other times I helped family through a crisis only to have them not be grateful after they left.

    What I have learned from having turmoil around is that I absorb it and yes, I can prevail and overcome it by shutting myself in my room to write and so on BUT I end up with big health consequences. I’m afraid for you and for Richie if you don’t get calm and quiet back in your house. Not all that long after all the above, my workload, stress level, and not getting to take care of myself ended up creating a scary heart problem that I will have to be careful of the rest of my life.

    I don’t give advice because I sure didn’t take it when I should have from concerned people. But I relay my experience to people I care about like you. Maybe it’s my cautionary tale? Please do what is necessary to take care of yourself and your husband and your writing. Your son and others will learn to deal better with their problems when you set self-care limits and boundaries with your usual love. Oops, starting to sound like advice. Love you!

  22. Barbara Cameron says:

    Sorry, didn’t mean to write so much. But you have many of us concerned about you. Jenny and Lani, tie her down and keep her there if you have to!

  23. Well said, Terri. I’ve been through this so I’m not just blowing smoke. Tell Son he’s not allowed in your house unless he acts like a polite grown-up. No yelling. If the girlfriend, not matter how much you like her, allows him to treat her like this, they feed off each other. I’ve wondered many times why she puts up with him, and why you put up with him.
    I don’t mean to be harsh. You need a break from him and I’ll bet he figures out when he can act out and where he can’t. My son finally figured out how to live a clean, productive life. When I asked him what more we could have done to help him, he said, “You should have cut me loose sooner. I knew I could make you feel guilty.”
    I hope your day goes better.

  24. It’s the hardest thing in the world when you have to watch your kids do things that you know are mistakes and you know they’ll regret.
    Nothing harder.
    I’m so sorry Krissie. Been there. Hate it that you have to be there.
    If I can be a light at the end of the tunnel, though. It gets better. Mine are in their thirties and it’s better.

  25. Rachel says:

    Hee, love an Aliens quote! Every time I make cornbread I have to mutter ‘guess she don’t like the cornbread either’ hee.

  26. Kelly S says:

    I suspect the nuke it and Jenny option are the one in the same. My vote is to unleash Jenny on him.

  27. Krissie,
    Surely if you go home, all you’ll do is be even more sucked into the crazy there, and why would you do that? You can’t fix them, and you’ve drained yourself dry trying to.
    Let it all spin and rage with you a safe distance away. Everyone will be fine.
    Stay with your support system, let them try to shield you from as much of this as they can, and give yourself some breathing room. You need it. You deserve it.

  28. Lynda says:

    Stay in Ohio with your sisters, sweetie. Richie is an amazing man, and if he says he can stand you being gone for a few more days, believe him. Love and hugs.

  29. For several times, I asked myself whether it was okay to write a comment, but I keep thinking about this stuff, so I’ll write it and leave it up to you to delete.

    What have we got here? Let’s look at the main characters.
    1) a girlfriend who lets her ex yell at her ON THE PHONE for an hour
    2) a mother who already let her son yell at her ON THE PHONE for an hour (I remember from a former post)
    3) a yeller who is encouraged to go on yelling because none of the above mentioned people hang up on him.

    It doesn’t make sense to argue with a yeller because he doesn’t listen and most certainly does not consider the things you say. The only sensible thing to do is to shut down the phone.

  30. We’re good. Krissie’s staying until Tuesday. Lani has her phone and people are leaving messages. Krissie’s sleeping. Now all we need is running water . . .

  31. Jessie says:

    One thing I was wondering… How did you know your son blew up at his GF and was yelling at her for an hour? Son, Richie or GF? Who called and told you? Did you call and ask? If you are going to defend your mental health you need to tell whoever is passing this stuff on to you “I can’t hear this. I can’t solve it so I can’t help.” Have some topics ready so you can change the subject if something like this comes up. It is darn hard not to listen if someone drags the topic in front of you but you are a grown woman -all be it a mother – so you have to set boundaries. And you need to not ask. If you bring yourself back in or let someone else bring you back in you are part of the problem since at this point you cannot be part of the solution.

    Wow. that sounded much harsher than I meant it to but you have to start being tougher with everyone or you are going to be living in hell for the rest of your life whenever things go wrong. The perfect mother syndrome with a wise and warm solution to all problems only existed on 50’s sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver and the Donna Reed Show.

  32. Micki says:

    !! All this and no running water???? Ugh! Crisis is *always* better when you can count on the conveniences of modern civilization. *superhugs* (more serious condolences below)

  33. jinx says:

    Right on with the Tuesday return, yay for the sleeping, and good for the fierce protective sisters. A certain amount of calm, implacable ferocity is a big help in any situation when somebody is yelling and taking their frustrations out on other people.

    Y’all are doing great.

  34. Micki says:

    It will pass, it will pass, it will pass.

    I can sympathize for your feelings of wanting to go back — being independent is one thing, but being lonely is a whole other thing, and I think having a support system in times of trouble is so comforting. You want to be a support to your son, and I can understand this completely.

    In a way, I think you want to be his therapist, since he won’t go to one, and I think it’s a fine, old-fashioned idea to bounce ideas off a non-professional with empathy. However, it’s a rough job, and you also need to know when to say no.

    What I don’t get is what he expects to accomplish by yelling. Maybe you could ask him in a calmer motive. If he wants the girl back, that’s not the way to do it. If he wants to vent, there are other ways to do it. If he wants to work through the problem verbally, it might be a good idea, but he might find it has fewer consequences if he yells at a teddy bear or something to work out the problem, and then brings the conclusions to his family and girlfriend.

    Playing armchair psychiatrist, it might be useful to reflect on how you and Richie resolve conflict. Is he using that as a role-model, or is he reacting against it?

    I think he (and everyone) should be very cautious about expressing criticism, and very generous about expressing love. I heard that it takes 6 or 7 nice things to make up for one critical comment. Often, we get that ratio completely wrong — even backwards when we are having a rough time.

    Finally, it’s VERY important to hash these things out in a way that brings better understanding. We shouldn’t be afraid of arguments. We should be afraid of hurting each other, but sometimes it’s so important for the honesty to be clearly expressed.

    *hugs* and . . . it will pass. Relax while you are in Ohio, and get what you can done.

  35. Oh, I adore Aliens! And Michael Biehn in particular. Him and Ripley — one of the great romances and not a word was spoken.

  36. I’m trying to imagine Krissie and Richie yelling, and it just doesn’t work. They’re not yellers.
    But now that I think of, her dad used to call her mother “Old Yeller” so maybe . . .

  37. I don’t know if Richie and I have every yelled at each other. on the rare occasions we get mad we go to our own corners, stew about it, calm down and then talk it out.

  38. Jen Wyatt says:

    I don’t have any pearls of wisdom, just lots of love and warm fuzzies for all of you squalor-dwellers. “Serenity now!”

  39. Cielkaye says:

    Oh dear, this is all so repetitive. I have said it before, but here goes again. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

  40. German Chocolate Betty says:

    First off: Richie should be canonized. If ever a man was a saint, that man is Richie…

    FWIW, I know Richie wants the best for Krissie, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

    If it helps, Krissie, to reduce the guilt feelings of “leaving him alone in Crisis-Land”, here’s a thought.

    Maybe, when you, Krissie, are well cared for in Ohio, it helps Richie too. Think of it this way: if you are upset, you will also carry this to bed with you, and, if you’re like me, you’ll constantly pick at the emotional scab (and probably talk about it). Richie has no chance to try to mentally “escape” — because, of course, being St Richie, he’ll listen to you. Plus he’ll worry even more seeing your stressed-out face, your tears, the lines on your forehead.

    Perhaps right now he can close the bedroom door, shut the world out and crawl into bed for a quiet time (reading? watching a distracting movie??) before sleeping. Maybe this helps him a bit too.

    I say this because my husband is, at the moment, working in a toxic environment. I can’t do anything to help him except listen, but that is also emotionally exhausting for me (shoots my blood pressure way up there). Night after night after night I listened to him railing about this, feeling helpless and frustrated and suffering along with him. Finally I said, look, it’s not that I am not concerned, and it’s not that I don’t love and support you, but this is killing me too. Can we at least have a few evenings now and then without this? So, we intentionally have evenings where we do NOT talk about it. Ultimately, it is better for him, too, because he doesn’t come home every night to re-open the wounds and pick at the scabs until bedtime. He’s actually sleeping better now and I am too. He realized he needed some “distance” as well…and that by not reliving his pain every single evening, he was calming down as well.

    Distance isn’t always measured in miles.

    Just saying.

    In the meantime, hang in there. We are all depending on you!

  41. What a yeller wants to accomplish is to make himself heard. Which he does, coming to think of it. If he’d hit people or trash the house, people would probably stop him, but why he’s yelling, they think they’re still in the middle of a discussion. Which they’re not because the yeller won’t listen.

    So trying to argue this out will just encourage the yeller to continue. Was this guy ever put in time-out when he was a kid?

  42. Ranch Girl says:

    I grew up with a verbally abusive mother. Even after I married and left home, whenever I visited, or even talked to her on the phone, she would turn everything into an argument, so that every time I came I knew I was going to be upset and angry. A very wise person told me – just walk away. Everytime it starts, say ” got to go – don’t want to argue” and DO IT. It was hard the first couple of times, but amazingly – IT WORKED! It took several times of doing it, but the change was amazing. It is hard for them to yell at you if you are not there.

  43. Krissie, some twenty years ago, I was a stay-a-home Mom with a problem: watching the babies all day led to a lot of blank space in my head. I filled it with books, endless, endless books. So many paperbacks–and this is the absolute truth–that before I came down the stairs in the morning, carrying one baby or the other, I’d have secreted on my person a paperback. *coughs into hand* Okay, maybe I did buy more books than I fessed up to. And maybe my husband was keeping a mental track of how many books I was consuming.

    You were one of the authors I read. I have jammed one of your paperbacks down the back seat of my jeans more times than I can count. Because you’ve written a lot of books. And I liked and still like (the Ice series) your books.

    So do what is good for you and your readers, Krissie. Write it out. Write the hell out.

  44. Micki says:

    I have to say, from my own perspective, yelling is a lot better than hitting people or trashing the house. You can tune out yelling (with difficulty, but it can be done). I’m always afraid if the yeller isn’t allowed to vent, more destructive ways of dealing with problems will seem viable . . . . But, that’s MY baggage.

    (-: Armchair is just another word for ass-eriffic. Here’s some more: perhaps the yelling is somewhat genetically influenced? They say some babies — even from incredibly young ages — are quite social, and others are not. I don’t know if it helps or not to think of it as genetic — I do believe we can overcome some genetic tendencies with coping strategies. Just tossing it out to the universe.

  45. Who said you can’t run away? Maybe not forever. But what’s wrong with you and Ritchie going somewhere for a week or a month – away together – without telling family where you’re going, and leaving your cell phones at home?

    Run away. It might be the best thing you’ve ever done for yourself.

    Hugs honey!

  46. Hell if you don’t want Jenny to talk to them I’d be happy to do it. Because I’m so much nicer and more tactful than she is. Heh.

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