A Plan That Lost Steam

Michael, our 21-year-old, is getting ready to leave to study abroad for the remainder of this summer. He sat the hubby and I down the other day and told us he was worried about Blake’s emotional state and his upcoming move out of state to begin college.

“He’s really not ready to go,” Michael observed. “He feels like a disappointment to you guys, especially when it seems that everything is based on whether he gets up in the morning or not. And he doesn’t respond well to tough love. It just makes him shut down more.”

“So what are you thinking?” I asked him, as the three of us sat on our back patio.

“I think he needs a mission, a purpose. You know, little tasks to get him out of the house. Things he needs to practice to live away from home. He can go buy his groceries so you can get an idea now what he’ll need to spend on them and so that he’ll get used to buying what he needs. And he can go to the library or the coffee shop and set up his computer and practice writing from there. You could give him a small stipend each week so he could practice. I think it would make him feel accomplished. But,” Michael continued, “I don’t think it should come from you guys.”

“What do you propose?” asked the hubby.

“I’ll talk with him tonight,” Michael noted. “I’ll see what he thinks and help him to make it his. If it’s his idea, he might be willing.”

So, we parted leaving this between the boys.

Michael Makes Inroads

The next morning, Blake stopped me early.

“Mom,” he said, “Michael and I were talking last night about ways for me to get ready to leave for school. Can we talk with you and Dad tonight about it? I think it’s a good plan.”

“Sure,” I answered. I tried to sound calmly enthusiastic, but inside I was kind of excited. Was my son who regularly chooses bed and the sofa to leaving the home actually wanting to launch a little bit?

The four of us met last night and Michael and Blake led the talk. Michael shared how doing these kinds of things would have helped him make the transition a little easier when he left for college. He thought it would give Blake more confidence to live in the world

And Then I Watched it Happen…

Blake went from mildly enthusiastic to questioning to looking downright terrified. He started finding reasons it wasn’t a good idea. He started worrying he’d be judged and held to this standard. He worried he’d fail. It didn’t matter what anyone said. The hubby and I noted we wouldn’t hold him to anything. It was his plan, and if he followed it, we would cheer him on. If he did not, we wouldn’t comment. Michael stayed positive and light and shared how beneficial it could be. I was proud of how he held his own and supported his brother. In the end, we left it that Blake could decide whether he did it or not.

And then, as I got ready for bed, he called me into his room.

“It’s just so hard to get out of bed,” he said, staring off into space. “Bed is the only place that feels good. It’s like having a hug and having to leave it. Nothing in the day feels good and I just distract myself with YouTube or games all day. And then it’s even hard to go back to bed knowing I’ll have to do the same thing again tomorrow. Living is hard and I’m too scared to die – so I’m just in that in between space.”

And there was little more I knew to do for my son than listen, acknowledge, and snuggle him with a tight squeeze until he dismissed me with a, “Good night, Mom.” For all my professional training and experience, I do not know how to move my own son from here to there. And right now, I don’t know that there is anyone else who knows how to either.

11 thoughts on “A Plan That Lost Steam

  1. Nena

    I love that Blake’s brother is trying to help his brother gain his independence. As Michael stated that he didn’t know if Blake was ready to go off on his own…I have been wondering the same thing. Even though I only know you from your blog, your experience is very similar to mine with my daughter. My daughter is 17 and hasn’t been to a “real school” in 2 years. She has been doing online school. However, this summer she took her first college course at our local community college. This is a first step in helping her get more independent. I don’t know that she will ever go away to school on her own. She may have to live with us through out. Some people take a little longer to leave the nest.

    1. Our stories do have a lot in common. It’ll be interesting to see what paths our two go on. We definitely know this going away is not a sure thing, but he’s insistent he’s going -and we already had him wait one year. I do know he’s got better skills than he did a year ago, so we shall see. Thank you so much for sharing! I appreciate you being here.

  2. Dr. Sarah Haider

    I wish all the best for your family, and I am especially touched that Blake’s brother was so instrumental in at least getting the conversation started. Blake is lucky he had you to hug him in that moment, truly.

  3. At age 56 and having been in treatment (ERP therapy and medications) for 28 years with perhaps a 50% improvement in symptoms, I follow Blake’s story with great interest. I know how difficult the battle to manage OCD can be. Despite that I continue to look for ways to improve the quality of my life. I am determined to make the most of the life I have been given.

    My prayer is that Blake has far more success than I have had.

    Paul K.

  4. As a parent it’s so hard not to be able to fix everything! It’s heartwarming that Michael cares so much about Blake and I hope and pray that things go well for Blake when he leaves for school. Whatever happens, he is blessed to have such a great support system every step of the way.

  5. I’m proud for Blake. I know it is frustrating that he backed down on the plans, but it is such an awesome sign of bravery and progress that he was able to consider it and get excited at first. That is an important first step towards being ready to actually participate in the plans. Way to go!

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