TW: Depression and family strife. Long.
Marvin for spacing:
Child and I have always had a somewhat difficult relationship. I think that a large part of this came from the stress I have always put on kids doing well academically and developing independence. Child was somewhat delayed in early development compared to our other kids (toileting and reading were challenges for them), but Spouse and I worked hard with them, and at least the first few years of elementary school seemed to be a happy time for them. They remained an incredibly picky eater, but they had friends and enjoyed doing things with the family.
This changed with middle school, where their school attendance was sporadic at best, and they seemed to spend much of each day in bed. High school (finally completed at 19, thank gods) was a matter of changing school, home tutors, occasional begging, thoughts of GEDs, etc.
Child, at 19, sits around the house and does little but eat junk food, watch TV (usually anime or two-year-old late Colbert opening monologues), and play video games. They have no friends IRL. They are sullen and when they speak they speaks only of Dr. Who, video games and/or how much the world sucks. On the rare occasions when they are out of the house, they are extremely sensitive to slights in any form. One of the few things they will eat outside of the house is bread sticks at Olive Garden. So while Spouse was out of town a while back, I took Child to Olive Garden for dinner. The waiter came to the table and said something like “can I get any drinks for you guys.” Clearly, “guys” meant that the waiter had identified them as masculine, which for some reason was my fault, and so they had been offended (though they said nothing about that at the time, and referred to it for the first time yesterday—see below).
For the past two weeks, child has been avoiding me, saying one or two words to me each day, and generally giving me the stink eye. Rather like a car, except that cats occasionally act friendly. They are much more communicative with Spouse who is, I will freely admit, a warmer and more affectionate person than myself. (I use “they,” BTW, because a month after Facial Feminization Surgery, Child is reevaluating their gender and sexual orientation.)
Yesterday evening, Spouse had finally had enough of the tension, and called for child and I to have a discussion with Spouse as mediator. Child launched into what I would characterize as a tirade, accusing me of thoroughly fucking up their life and of never having a real relationship with them.
The key point is that apparently—I honestly do not remember this, and I usually do remember things like this that I am/would be ashamed of—at some point about 8 or 9 years ago, Child had used an extremely vulgar term to refer to Spouse (I believe it was at the dinner table, and likely had to do with the food provided) and I spanked child as a result. The term Child used was “you beat me,” which is accurate enough.
It is possible that this happened but, as I said, I do not have any memory of it, and I am loathe to apologize in a conditional (i.e., “if that happened, I am sorry”) manner, though perhaps I should just lie and say that I do remember it.
In any event, Child traces each and every one of their issues, including their refusal to go to school, their gender- and sexual- indeterminacy, their video addiction, their anger, their depression, anxiety, etc., to that act. I am to blame for everything. They then turned to Spouse and took her to task, at some length, for not leaving and divorcing me and changing the family name.
Child announced that they would be happiest if I were to cease to exist. That they hate me, everything I am, and that they hate themself for what they see of me in them. They then announced that they will be moving into a dorm for the fall and hope never to see me again.
Sidenote: I am a parent of four. Therefore, I have been the Very Worst Parent in the World on multiple occasions. This was not that. This was sheer, unadulterated hatred. And I have been living with this, its outward expression or its implication, for most of the past decade.
Child will not be moving into a dorm this semester or next, because they have delayed taking the SAT. Spouse and I managed to find a way for them to take the SAT in time to register for classes, but not to be fully set up as a matriculating student, so no dorm until next fall at the earliest.
I honestly do not think that I can share a house with Child much longer. Part of that is just the pain from yesterday’s attack, and a large part of it is, honestly, resentment. Between supporting Child’s (now abandoned) artistic and photographic hobbies, computer and gaming hobbies, therapy, and FFS, we have spent well over $100,000 of our retirement savings (and I am theoretically five years from retirement right now). I do love Child, but I don’t especially like them right now, and that resentment is a problem that I recognize.
I am strongly considering renting a room in a near-by city until such time as Child moves out, because at least I have the capability to live on my own, and they don’t.
Has anyone faced anything like this? And, if so, how did you approach it? I admit, I have largely abandoned the field…Spouse has been Child’s comfort and refuge, and I have learned to live with a good deal less of Spouse’s attention (yeah, so there’s that, too) over the years.
I am broken. Help?