Time for Tough Love
This blog has been really good for me. I started it during the lowest point in my life. I felt so destroyed. So hopeless. I was hurt and confused and angry. And I used this blog to chronicle all of that in the beginning. And knowing you were in any way listening to me helped me beyond measure.
As my pain lessened, this blog has evolved. Sort of. I guess more accurately I have evolved. Because this blog has always been about me speaking my truth and just airing things out...it's just the subject matter has changed from largely dismal to more commonly hopeful and optimistic. Which is who I really am at my core.
I've had some rough experiences in my life. My childhood was not picture perfect. It wasn't the worst you've ever heard of but I know that for many of my friends it was unfathomable. And it is all true.
But most of my adult life has been pretty good. I may resent much of how I was raised but I have always been able to be a functioning adult. And for that I am more grateful every day.
There's a topic that I have not discussed on this blog because frankly I wasn't sure I had the right to share it. But I have discussed with Rob and received his blessing so this will no longer be a taboo subject that I tiptoe around.
I realize that may come across as a bit melodramatic, but I am talking about Rob and his son Duncan. And because it is about his son, I've been reluctant to share...and I'll probably skim over some of the details. But I've been hiding a big part of my life and frankly I could use my village to help me a little.
The problem is Duncan is 100% supported by Rob. Financially. And since Rob and I have discussed marriage, this is a bit of an obstacle because I do not agree with this. And while we haven't combined our finances yet, the plan is do so. And I am definitely not ok with this situation and how it would impact my bank account. (and obviously yes I will maintain separate accounts as long as we disagree on this topic)
Duncan has had some mental health issues and has been treated for them in the past. I acknowledge that his issues are legitimate and I in no way am trying to make light of them. What I cannot understand is why as a 22 year old man he is ok with depending on Dad for literally everything.
A noise scared him in the middle of the night? Call dad.
Want new clothes? Call dad.
Feel like pizza tonight? Call dad.
He feels entitled. He only wants to shop at Zara or H&M. He drives a Jeep Grand Cherokee (which I feel compelled to mention came about after his mom died) - which is expensive to maintain. He just broke his lease and moved into a more expensive apartment - which I was VEHEMENTLY against. And all of this has been paid for by Rob. Because in the nearly 2 years I have known him, Duncan has had 2 jobs.
1 lasted a single day. The second one seemed to go pretty well, I think it lasted about 6 weeks before he abandoned it.
I'm sorry - this is about to go all over the place.
In January 2020, Rob was over at my place one night when Duncan called. He wanted to quit school (he was at Blinn Community College down in College Station with the eventual intent of transferring into A&M. He was pursuing a teaching degree in English). He said he wanted to be a mechanic. Rob told him to just finish out the semester and if he still wanted to quit then they would look at trade schools in the fall.
I convinced Rob to go ahead and let him quit while he could still get a refund for the semester. I had already seen what Duncan was like the previous semester with school (he gets stressed out VERY easily and was constantly wanting to quit). Honestly I thought this was a great idea. I knew Duncan likes cars - his face lights up when talking about all things automotive. English lit? Not so much.
The deal was he could quit school if he got a job and started to help pay his expenses AND if he enrolled in a trade school for the next semester.
He got a job that he was excited about and was supposed to start after Spring Break. He came home for two weeks, quarantine started, and the only time he returned to his apartment was to pack his stuff up. And therefore he never actually started the job.
And I understand Covid shook things up a bit. Duncan kept using Covid as a reason why he couldn't find a job though and I say that is bullshit. Grocery stores, Target, Sam's, everyone was hiring like crazy for stockers and delivery. Or UberEats, DoorDash, or whatever other food delivery app - they needed drivers.
But working as a stockboy was I guess beneath him. And delivery would put too many miles on his car (or it would smell like food).
The thing is, Duncan doesn't seem to understand that sometimes you just have to take a job because it pays the bills. And he doesn't understand that because Rob hasn't enforced it. He's given him deadlines, but he always backs off. So Duncan's lifestyle doesn't change at all and he doesn't have to work a job he hates. And he's gotten away with this month after month.
When we moved in together I told Rob Duncan was not living with us, that he needed to get his own place. I thought this would really force him getting a job.
Spoiler alert - it didn't.
I thought he might at least be reasonable and look for an apartment that might fit his budget if he were to get a job.
Spoiler alert - he wasn't.
He also took this opportunity to get a new sectional sofa (again, I was very much opposed to) and a new bed. Why? His official excuse was because his old stuff was crap but my official excuse is Dad made some money on the house sale so I deserve new furniture.
In case you cannot sense my annoyance, I told Rob - repeatedly - that he shouldn't have such nice things. Your first apartments are supposed to kind of suck. Your furniture should be crappy because it should be made up of an assortment of hand-me-downs. And the only way that shouldn't be true is if you pay for those things yourself.
Raise your hand if your first apartment(s) was decorated in "early want this?".
Look. It is one thing to help your kids out on occasion because you have the ability to do so. I don't begrudge him that. But I think there is something to be said for living in a crappy apartment with crappy furniture and working at a crappy job (or 4).
At least everyone always told me it builds character.
But even though he was in this nice over budget apartment, he wasn't happy. He started having auditory hallucinations and even when it was proven to him that it was not real, he insisted on breaking his lease and moving.
I mean sure, why not? It doesn't effect his credit. Because EVERYTHING is in Rob's name. Because you can't get an apartment if you don't have a fucking job.
So in spite of my protestations, he moved (for the record the hallucinations were now under control to my knowledge and no longer preventing him from sleeping). This time to an even more expensive apartment (that he will not be able to afford on his own). And he still doesn't have a job, though he has had a couple of interviews at least. I still say he is being too picky. There is no reason for a 22 year old to not have a job of some sort. Rob isn't even asking him to pay for everything, he just wants him to contribute. Something. Anything.
Anyone can get a job making something when they have no obligations.
Anyone except Duncan it seems.
But it isn't just the financial aspect. We have finally stopped the calls after 10pm. That's progress.
There's also the fact that Duncan will not do anything that is hard. Or potentially confrontational. Unless it is to yell at Rob which just sets me off because of how ungrateful he sounds. I honestly do not know how he ever expected to be a teacher.
And he calls Rob for everything. And Rob does everything for him because that's the way its always been and its just easier. But that isn't helping Duncan in the long run.
You may remember I recently said Duncan was taking the cats. And Rob and I had already agreed that he had a one month time limit to return them.
We were overly optimistic.
Literally the NEXT DAY he calls crying telling Rob he can't handle them and we have to take them back he's changed his mind he realizes now he doesn't want a pet after all.
What the actual fuck?
Apparently the first day Shadow peed on his new couch. So that was it. And while I can certainly understand the desire to get rid of her, he made a commitment. Sometimes there is an adjustment period.
Rob somehow convinced him to keep going, he told Duncan to take Shadow to the vet to see if there was a medical issue (there was a slight infection) but that still required a lot of assistance from Rob to get the appointment and obviously pay for it.
And yet he called the next day literally crying about how it wasn't good for his mental health which Duncan knows is a fucking trigger and will get him anything he wants. Even though I kept saying no he has to keep them. He has to see it through. Just because it is a little hard at first doesn't mean it isn't worth it. And Rob would agree with me in the moment.
Spoiler alert - the cats are back home with us.
And here's the thing. Duncan was crying about how he is a quitter and a loser (his words, not ours) and this was a PERFECT opportunity to force him to see something through. It was the perfect time to not let him be a quitter with little to no risk.
And that was the straw that broke this camel's back.
I had mentioned to Rob way back in September that I thought we would benefit from some counseling because I do not know how to deal with Duncan. Because I firmly believe (and freely admit I could be wrong) that although he has the best of intentions, Rob is not helping Duncan. And I asked Rob to set up something for us via Duncan's therapist because I also thought it would be helpful to speak to someone aware of his issues (without divulging anything to us).
Like how much of this is his mental health and how much of it is he just needs to grow the fuck up and deal with life?
Life isn't easy. Its hard and its messy and its painful but we keep going. And if he can't handle the littlest things now, what will happen with something actually bad happens?
Anyway, I found us an online therapist. We have had one session together, he's had one, and I have one this week. And I promise I am not trying to place blame here but she did agree with me that Rob has got to set deadlines with Duncan and stick with them. And he has to let him fail.
And it is going to be a hard lesson. It's going to be hard on Duncan and it's going to be hard for Rob. And he knows I am here to support him.
And also I should stop offering so much unsolicited advice. Nobody's perfect here.
I understand Rob's struggle. He loves Duncan and he has a lot of guilt in how Duncan was raised. He currently has the means to assist him financially and he feels an obligation to do that. And he is definitely afraid of what Duncan might do to himself. But he knows that this cannot continue.
No one said tough love is easy. I think that's the point.
But how does he enforce it? If Duncan doesn't get a job and start helping with his bills, does Rob just kick him out? Does he just stop paying all of the bills? Remember that everything is in Rob's name so if the bills aren't paid it ultimately hurts Rob's credit. Moving in with us is not an option. Because frankly I won't put up with his bullshit.
For the record if any of our kids needed to move in on a temporary basis, they can always come home. The problem is I know it would be temporary with my kids. I do not know that with Duncan.
I'm not sure what the right answer is here. I want to help but I don't know what to do. It's hard to be supportive when you feel so strongly that everything being done is wrong. And I have a real hard time keeping my feelings to myself.
Yeah. I never have been good at keeping my feelings to myself.
Have we met?
So if anyone has any tips or ideas or suggestions or just wants to commiserate, please let me know. Feel free to private message me if you don't feel like you can comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.
#stilllucky #infinitelybetter #couplescounseling #therapy #failuretolaunch #growingup #toughlove