Quiet day, but this may be the plan for a while anyway. I took him some juice this morning before he woke up, he drank it and liked it, then I didn't see him again until dinner. Then things got funny. It seems he likes to check expiration dates, and is horrified to discover that I have a ton of stuff out of date. I mean really out of date. I just had to laugh, though. So after dinner he went through my fridge and pantry and we tossed a lot of stuff. I literally haven't cooked in a long time, at least nothing regular. I have done more cooking in the last week than I have in a really long time. So, I buy things with the best intentions of using them, but I dislike cooking just for one. Now that Michael is here, and he loves to eat, I am cooking dinner at least on a regular basis. It is fun right now. Once school starts again he is going to be in charge of cooking on Tuesdays, that's taco Tuesday, and then raid days, making us sandwiches or something quick because I don't get home until just at raid start time.
He seems in a good mood, and after dinner asked if I wanted to sit and have a drink, just one. I said sure. At this point, it is all good and he is weening himself, sorta. Then right after we both went back to our computers, he comes up and says there is a heroic raid starting and did I want to come. Of course I did, but he said well if he comes he has to have a drink. Sneaky bastard.... There wasn't much left in the bottle so I gave it to him. Normally he could finish that entire bottle in one night, but it has taken him two, so I count that as a win. We will get even better with time.
I was taking with Starey online this morning. She observed that Michael is like someone who has been in prison and just released. A good comparison. It makes me very sad that I have no real support in my family for this venture, so it helps me a lot to talk to her, her insights really help me. I realize I have been impatient and wanting too much too soon. I knew starting this that we had to take baby steps. Michael isn't going to adjust overnight, and as long as he can make baby steps, I need to be satisfied with that. There are certain baby steps he is making that I haven't even acknowledged, like sitting down to dinner with me every night. That never happened in Minnesota. He had limited contact with his cousin, everyone went their own way in that house, and now he is being “forced” to be social with me for at least a small portion of the day. We still do a lot of communicating via the computer, which is ironic as we live in the same house. But it is more comfortable for him. Another way we are going to start taking baby steps is with the drinking. I have mentioned this before, but it is good for me to put it into part of my “action plan” for him. I am going to let him have one fairly stiff drink after dinner. It will help him relax a bit and will help me because it is about the only time we talk. I like the company. I know he will try to expand it, and initially I may let him, but he is already drinking a lot less than he was in Minnesota, so these baby steps will lead to a weening, hopefully. Cold Turkey is just too had for both of us. On Saturday we have been invited to have dinner with Anne Marie and her family as they are camping. Jarrod says he will “give the guy a chance.” That's all I can hope for. I think Michael will go if I promise him booze. It will still be stressful for him, he will still have to be social with people he doesn't know, and the amount of booze will be limited, but it is just another baby step.
Saw a little more of Michael today than I have in the last couple of days. I went down the hill to do some grocery shopping and got home around noon or so. I didn't hear him so I thought he was still asleep, having not gotten to bed until 6 am. After I put everything away I came upstairs and looked online and he was on. I told him I had gotten a couple of things for him, nothing big, a trash can and some ant spray,so he came out and was all excited about the trashcan and the ant spray. He showed me where all the ants had been and was just tickled pink he was going to be able to spray them. He also showed me the dead black widow and told me how freaked out he had been, and he described how he had trapped a mouse behind the washer and dryer. Now he is all worried that it will starve to death, a slow horrible death, rather than a quick one. He cracks me up. But he was very proud of himself for dealing with these things that frankly scare him, and not just tell me about it and want me to fix it.
He hadn't eaten anything yet, so I fixed some juice and he had some leftovers, and we chatted. I told him I had to take care of the horses because Anne Marie et al., were camping, He said he would go with me later. So about 5:00 or so I asked him if he was hungry and he said yes, so I started dinner, then remembered about the horses. He stopped what he was doing, telling his ladies what he was going to do, and we went over to Anne Marie's house. First he loved the chickens. He had never petted a chicken before and these are fairly friendly. Then he was entranced by the horses, basically has never been close to one before. He did the watering for me while I fed. Then he went in the house. To say that my sweet daughter is a lousy housekeeper doesn't really begin to describe the situation. I'm discovering Michael has some real sensibilities, like his insistence on discarding things that are out of date. The house horrified him. I'm used to it, but I knew it would be a shock. He said he would come with me again to feed, but he didn't want to go back in the house. I totally understand. I will probably come over early in the morning and I doubt he will be up, but on the way home from dinner tomorrow night we will have to stop to feed and water. On my way out of the house in trying to keep the cat from getting out the door, I stumbled and hit my arm on the light switches by the door. It took a big chunk of skin off and was pretty messy. Michael put some bandages on it for me and remembered, when we got home, that it still needed another one. He was frankly shocked at how easily I can be hurt. He can be so considerate and caring. My skin is like tissue paper. I told him if he had bumped into it like I had, probably wouldn't have even left a mark. Goes a long way to explaining all the scars on my legs.
When we got home I fixed dinner and he really enjoyed it. He said his appetite has come back and he is enjoying all the cooking I am doing. He helped me clean up, talking a blue streak the whole time, and then he had one drink. And not a very strong one. If he sticks with that for tonight it will be a big step. Even if he asks for more, it is still a vast improvement as he is leaving space between drinks. But we will just have to wait to see. He had several last night but said he felt fine this morning, and has been in a good mood all day. I wonder how long it will last.
Michael did ask for more drink last night. He actually got fairly drunk, though he drank less than “normal.” Whether he admits it or not, this camp out dinner we are going to is making him anxious. He wants to meet Jarrod, but he knows he may be adversarial. He's not afraid, but definitely anxious. He knows how much Jarrod means to me and I know he hopes they can be friends. But he said he is just going to be himself, not try to put on a facade, and what ever happens will be fine. I told him, and I mean it, I would never ask him to be anything but himself. I am never going to ask him to be on his best behavior or anything like that. I am never going to criticize his hair or clothes. Michael is very presentable in a bohemian kind of way. His manners are excellent, his caring nature very evident, I wouldn't change any of that for any reason. I do just want him to be himself because that is more than trying to win anyone over. Jarrod can be a very intimidating man, but he is fair. If he says he will give him a chance, he will.
So, he drank more than he should last night, but still less than a whole bottle. I am taking the bottle with me tonight, and he doesn't know it but I bought two bottles so I poured some of the other bottle into the original one. He has about half a bottle. I have seen him drink half a bottle and not be drunk, so if he needs it to relax, it will be there.
After dinner Michael got back on the computer and started playing with Xelle and Amber, and talking in skype. After an hour or maybe more, he asked if I wanted to join them in Skype. He had been helping me with an achievement and Xelle and Amber had helped too. I said of course I would join them, and I was very pleased he asked me. I never want to intrude on his time with his ladies. So the four of us were having a good time for quite a while, and then Michael asked me if he could have another drink. I made him one and he and I went outside while he drank it and he smoked. He thanked me profusely for allowing him drink when he needs it and not making him feel guilty. That's when we started talking about Jarrod and meeting him. We went back in and continued playing, with him asking for another drink in well spaced intervals. Then, at some point probably around 11:00, I went out with him while he smoked and we were talking. Just talking like we usually do. He said he just wanted to talk to me, that Xelle and Amber needed time to talk to each other, so we talked for probably an hour. Then he decided to check on the ladies and discovered they had dropped the call. He figured they gave up waiting and went to bed. Xelle is in NY and I'm not sure where Amber is, but it was late for both of them. Rather than being upset that they were gone, he was glad because, he said it again, he just wanted to talk to me. I am embarrassed to admit how pleased I was because I know how much Xelle means to him. But I realize that he just plays with his ladies, in that he never gets serious with them, but he opens up to me probably more than anyone else in his life.
We sat and talked until 4 am with him dipping into the rum we had set aside for the camp out. Much of what he said was nonsense, he describes his thinking by saying “Most people have a train of thought, but I have a whole train station going on at once.” Listening to him go from one subject to another and back and forth and up and down and all around gives me an insight into the thinking processes he has and how exhausting it must be to try to sort through all the simultaneous thoughts. Drinking seems to help him focus better, but we are still going to find a better way. He really wants to stop, or slow way down. I made the mistake of taking the bottle downstairs during the evening, and if he sees it he wants it. So I will have to limit his access better.
We talked a lot about us and adjusting to each other. He says we have made a lot of progress in a short period of time. His ability to read me is uncanny, and frankly a little scary. He said he knows I want more time with him, that I had hoped to have more companionship from him, and he said we are working towards a middle ground where he can have his space and privacy and still give me the company and attention I want. He tells me that I have made him feel extremely comfortable, put no pressure on him and allowed him to adjust in his own time and generally made him feel like this is his home. He says that he was able to leave the guilt he felt at being a shut-in behind him. That has been my goal, the more relaxed and at home he feels, the more progress we will make towards our mutual goals. His thinking is clearer, his breathing better, he generally feels very good and all that is just as it should be. He also told me that I probably saved his life. He reiterated again, he will never “terminate” himself, but recognizes that his smoking and drinking could ultimately do the job if not changed. My allowing him to get out of the environment he was in and make a fresh start, he feels, will enable him to get rid of two bad habits he knows are killing him.
He rambled on about many subjects, often repeating things he had said in previous talk sessions. I was stone cold sober so I was paying close attention to him and just listening. He has a strong need to talk because it does help him sort out his thoughts and put them into words. He often stops in the middle of a sentence and says he has overlapping thoughts and needs to sort them out, and will think for maybe 30 seconds before continuing. He is extremely eloquent at times, and at others pretty clumsy. For instance, he told me I looked like the wicked witch of the west, but that I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen. He was, of course, referring to inner beauty vs physical beauty. It was a clumsy attempt to tell me to not worry about my wrinkles and lack of hair and just know that I am beautiful to him. I accepted it as the compliment it was meant to be. I am very comfortable with him and don't feel I need to always look my best. I run around with no makeup, my hair sticking out and frizzy and he is used to it. We have no need for modesty, though neither one of us really thinks about it. He is fully expecting to help me bathe and dress after surgery, though I doubt I will need a whole lot of that. Helping me dress, probably, but I think I can manage the bathing part by myself.
It was another long language session of learning to speak “Michael.” I'm not fluent yet, but understanding is definitely coming. I will report back after the meeting with Jarrod tonight. Wish us luck :D
LATER THE SAME DAY:
The evening went much better than I could have hoped. Michael had a wonderful time. I gave him a “bracing” drink before we left, he was a little hungover from the night before, and he drank quite a bit, both rum and beer, while we were there, but he never looked drunk and he had a wonderful time playing with the girls and talking with Anne Marie. He and Jarrod didn't say much to each other, but I talked to Jarrod privately and thanked him for letting him come. He told he while he was uncomfortable with the situation, because it was me and because he knew me, he was willing to give him a chance. That trust that he has for me means so much. I love Jarrod, he and Anne Marie have been married almost 20 years, and I know him well. He calls me Mom and he is closer to me than his real mother. While it wasn't a whole hearted endorsement, his willingness to give Michael a chance takes away the stress we were both feeling.
Michael was over the moon on the way home. He kept saying “who knew I was so good with kids?” Well, he has that very childlike side to him and his love of play and just general love of the girls shined through. He also knows that Jarrod may take time to completely win over, if ever, and he is fine with that. He respects Jarrod, says he is definitely a man's man, noticed his marine corp hat, etc, but also noticed how much he loves his family and how good he is with the girls. Jarrod also has a childlike side, a gentle side, something that only those close to him realize.
My niece, Lysah was there with her boyfriend and his son. She is actually my niece by marriage, having been married to my nephew, but when they divorced, we kept her. We like her better. But I realized today that Anne Marie and Jarrod have had some experience with what I am trying to do. Lysah is bipolar and was in and out of hospitals for quite a while before getting stabilized, and Anne Marie and Jarrod helped her a lot. I talked to her last night, explained a bit about Michael, and she shared that her boyfriend's family just found out that she is bipolar and are unhappy about that, so she has strong affinity for what we are going through. When we left last night, she gave Michael a big hug and welcomed him to the family. That meant a lot to him..
We were there about six hours and it was dark when we left. I was very surprised we lasted that long, and I think Michael would have stayed longer, but we had to feed the horses. When we stopped to do that, he climbed in the pen with Gotcha and petted him. It was the first time he had ever petted a horse. Gotcha is a very gentle animal and probably enjoyed it, but got spooked when the neighbors set off some firecrackers, so Michael got out of the pen, but wasn't frightened by his running around, and I told him we will come back some time during the week and I will pull Gotcha out and he can brush him. I think he will like that. All these new experiences for Michael, like petting the chickens last night too, just put such a big smile on his face and stimulated his sense of wonder. It is lovely to watch.
After we got home, he was so full of the evening that he wanted to talk. He talked about being able to play with the kids, his love of play and a whole variety of things. At one point we started talking about death. I shared with him that I have been afraid of death since I was a child. I told him about my cousin Gale who died when he was about 14 and I was about 10. Gale lived in Colorado and I didn't even know he was sick. One day my mother called to Paula and to me and said to come in, she had something to tell us. I turned to Paula and said “Gale died.” It was the first psychic experience I had that I can remember. Gale had been born with some kind of congenital heart problem. They were going to fix it, but apparently in that time, it wasn't fixable and he died on the table. I told Michael I could remember lying in bed at night thinking “If Gale could do it, I could.” Michael asked me what I meant, and I said that if he could get through dying, so could I. He said it was my first taste of mortality. I agreed, but I have always had very mixed feelings about death. Given my spiritual views and my firm belief in reincarnation and the continuation of the spirit, it is surprising that I should feel as I do. But it isn't death itself that bothers me as much as the discontinuation of Linda. Talk about ego, but this is the only life I remember right now, and when it ends, Linda, as I know her, ends. Michael said it is the fear of the unknown, and of course he is right. He shared his belief that all life, all matter, comes from cosmic material and that when we die we return to that material state, perhaps to be reborn again in some way. He quoted the only passage from the Bible he believes in, the dust to dust passage. He told me about some funerals he had attended and we talked about how death should not be viewed with sadness, but rather funerals should be a celebration. He said that when he dies he wants one of two things to happen, either he dies and no one notices, which I told him wouldn't happen, or he is remembered with a big celebration, and lots of booze. Michael said that normally he wouldn't be able to talk about this heavy subject, but that it seemed to be a night for heavy talking. It was a significant discussion that led us to greater understanding. At one point he put his hand on me and looked at me and said how he understood more about me now than he did. Usually it's me who gets the insights into him, but this time, it was reversed. We talked for a couple of hours, more but I finally just gave out. I hated leaving him alone, but I had to go to bed. I think he played a couple of hours then went to sleep himself.
Note: Not for the first time I have wondered if I am doing the right thing with him. I am scared that I may have bitten off more than I can chew, that my help will not be enough for him. I don't know if he will accept professional help and right now it is all on me. He trusts me completely and I don't want to fail him. I am going primarily on instinct and experience with kids, but what if it isn't enough? I don't want to make things worse, but I love him and will do anything to help him conquer his demons and become the person he is meant to be.