All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.

A very personal old FB post from January 2017, during the school holidays.

I hate myself if I wake up after a bad nights sleep due to the heat and pain and then snap at my son for stuff that I find annoying. It’s stuff that isn’t the end of the world and stuff that I do want to talk to him about but in a reasonable, controlled, adult manner.

I then feel very bad indeed when I see his face, full of enthusiasm for what today’s holiday day with Dad might bring, fade away into yet another face of disappointment, like all the other times I let him down due to not being physically able to do the stuff he’d really like to do.

I’ll cool down (literally), take my painkillers and the plethora of other drugs I am on, go back into his room to find that he’s tidied it up for me (I never mentioned tidying his room), made his bed, and got himself ready for the day. He comes over without looking at me and says he loves me with his arms outstretched and in unison, I am doing the same. Talk about learned behaviours….. I say I am sorry and ask how he’s going; he says it’s okay Dad and that he understands. Fuck.

Life with a chronic disease that doesn’t let up. It affects your loved ones – my actions because of it makes our relationship all mixed up, with the young teenager playing the part of the adult at times.

I hate it, hate myself for letting it do this, let’s face it, hate ME for doing it.

The disease means I can’t work so money is very tight, and neither of us is used to that. Holiday time means trying to get him to join me in free yet still enjoyable activities, but he says no. I know he see’s his peers with money. They actually have a family and go away and stuff. We stay at home, in the same tiny flat we see all year, only recently moved to, and we both detest.

He says he’s okay with everything and that all he wants is to be with me. So the activities I organise just don’t get taken up. I am sure we’d enjoy them – on the rare occasions we do them we do. But no.

With no family or friends to see it’s just the two of us. At least he has a few good mates so he can have time with his friends each day – always at their place though. Not because of me – because of this place.

I should be stronger and in control. I have many tools I can use to avoid this behaviour, to pass through the pain. There are many so much worse off than I. Exhaustion and the pain itself are no excuse. To act that way in the morning.

Come on man, get out of this gloom and do something.


(archived Facebook post – from a group page)


Reflections from almost 12 months later are now in the comments.

One thought on “All of the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names.

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  1. Yes, it’s been just over twelve months since I originally wrote that post. My son and I have since developed a large degree of acceptance for our new life. Our new situation. We’ve found some upside.

    We have a roof over our heads, and while we do physically struggle with the fact that it’s tiny, we have decluttered and made it a home. When you have no garage, and passions for activities requiring relatively large items, something’s gotta give, and has.

    When I was without my boy during this past year, I fell into social isolation – a common thing for many men my age as it turns out. I’ll be posting a separate post discussing that sometime. Needless to say, stuck in a tiny flat you don’t want to be in, with no friends or family or job, and your cherished possessions dwindled down to almost nothing, you can fall into despair. With nothing to do but dwell on my health issues, and grieve over all that had now been lost, I grew to realise that this time, perhaps for the first time, I haven’t landed on my feet.

    I simply had to learn very quickly how to survive on a far more limited income, and became proud of my efforts to save money. The place wasn’t so bad – could have been so much worse. There was a major thing missing though. People.

    Yes, fellow human beings. At first, I leaned on my son. He was the only one around. He leaned back. Typical me – I was wracked with guilt at having ‘used’ him like an adult support. Yet we became tight, a team, Dad and Son, an incredibly close family of two. A more mature bond. Getting on with life. A boy like him should be looking at his future with wonder in his eyes, dreams, big, big dreams. Hmmmmm, and mates, computer games, and a definite, increasingly more than subtle interest in girls.

    Some people become obsessed by pets during stages of life like this. We’ve all probably joked about ‘crazy cat ladies’. They exist, and usually, have some of the kindest souls around. Our cat – well, many’s the late night where her affections calmed me.

    Then I became ‘friends’ with my health professionals – the only adults I regularly spent time with. They were kind to me, and became one-way surrogate friends for a time. One in particular, a ‘pain psychologist’ (yes, they are a thing), not only gave me the skills I needed to live with my condition, but became an invaluable sounding board. I stopped getting cranky at my boy for no reason. Thank goodness.

    I started to crave human touch, affection. My Facebook ‘friends’ list grew and grew (I knew that out of 300 friends I’d be lucky to have one or two that would come and put me out if I were on fire). I joined a number of special interest groups, online, and chatted with other single parents amongst others. I even went to a few events. I tried dating, but I wasn’t ready. Neither were they. I made some new friends though, wonderful people who I hope to keep in my life.

    I researched and found some social inclusion programs, and had a few attempts at participation in interesting activities. Most failed. I instead, of course, befriended the volunteer who was helping me. It seems like what I do. But he, like most good workers, moved on. I did find one group though, and at least it gives me an activity if not yet friendship.

    I took up an offer to join a band, and this was one of the turning points. It forced me to leave the house, socialise, be happy, eventually genuinely! The guys I performed with were wonderful human beings. Their huge extended families put their kind warm arms around me like an enormous hug. Their welcome was real, spontaneous, natural, engulfing. I had moments of happiness.

    I went to a grassroots Mens Mental Health Meetup and instantly connected with these blokes. Again, they were so kind, to me and my son. My writing helped again. Some online comments led to some public speaking at a fundraiser to a bunch of corporates – my old stomping ground. Sure enough, I ended up networking the room and after I’d told my story, I met more like-minded souls.

    I was encouraged by new friends and acquaintances to take up the simmering passions I hadn’t yet released, including writing. My son felt more comfortable, in himself, our home, and in me. I was back to normal, kind of, positive. The home wasn’t a train wreck anymore. He had a friend to stay over. The top bunk finally got used to sleep in rather than store stuff. Another friend did the same. There will be more, and he regularly has mates over during the day too. He’s probably less ashamed than I am of where we now live, but I am almost ready to have people over. New people.

    I’m often busy being busy, and that’s OK. Better that than dwelling on losses. My son is happy, I can be happy. There is more to life than the pursuit of happiness. Or wealth. I have some joy in my life again, and hope for my future. I’ve restarted the dating, and met some beautiful women. Inside and out. This time, I’ll be taking my time, but I have hope, again. I use that word a lot, don’t I? Hope.

    I am sure that the love I have for my son is what got me through this. Positive.

    He never ceases to amaze me. Even at the base level of being my motivating factor to haul myself out of the mire of self-pity and despair. I don’t imagine he’ll ever understand what he has done for me during this time. But I won’t forget.

    Like

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