(Photo Credit: clipartsheep.com)
Yesterday Thomas had therapy and it was a little tough to handle. We all had talked a little last week about how Thomas is afraid of his step-dad, Dan, and yesterday Dr. K. delved further into the issues we deal with in our home when it comes to our interactions as a family. One of the hardest things was sitting with Dr. K. and telling him about what Thomas deals with and even what I deal with from time to time with Dan and watching Dr. K.'s reaction to our stories brought home that things aren't as good around here as I thought they were. We've been struggling a lot lately, Thomas and I, with issues with Dan and his volatility especially where Thomas is concerned, and I can tell you that sharing our issues with a psychologist and getting his take on our reality is sobering. It's so easy to live our lives day to day in the way that we do that we forget that it isn't right that we have to deal with what we do.
To begin with, Dr. K. had Thomas place a number on his fear of Dan. Thomas deals with a constant fear of Dan and he rated his baseline fear at a 5 out of 10. That is how he spends his life, every day, every moment that he's around Dan. He lives in constant fear of upsetting him and part of the reason he hides out in his room is to avoid him.
I have written before about Dan, explaining his inability to stay consistent with his understanding of Thomas's schizophrenia, and the problems still remain to this day. There are days when Dan will totally understand that Thomas is sick but then one day I will bring something up about what Thomas is dealing with and Dan, for seemingly no reason at all, will flip out and unleash a tirade of frustrations saying that Thomas is "immature"and that he "needs to grow up and stop acting like a baby". It doesn't end there but that's the gist of it. For a while now I've been asking Dan to help Thomas find a new computer desk and on Sunday he seemed to be on board with it but when he went in to talk to Thomas about what Thomas might want in a desk, Dan, instead, told Thomas that his room was filthy, that he is a "hoarder" (which is not true) and he proceeded to go piece by piece through Thomas's things and deem some things garbage and tell him to throw them away and to store the other things that he didn't use. Yes, Thomas's room is messy. Yes, there is a layer of dust on everything and yes it would be good for him to straighten things up a little but he is far from being a hoarder and the things Thomas surrounds himself with are things that make him happy. I don't usually focus too much on his room except to ask him to vacuum every now and then and change his bed because I know Thomas's room is just how he wants it and I think he deserves to have his personal living space kept in the manner in which he wants it to be kept. As for the whole "helping Thomas with a desk" plan, that went out the window after the room inspection and subsequent scolding for what Dan feels Thomas should be doing with his things. So, instead, I spent the morning on my computer looking for a desk for Thomas and doing my best to keep Dan away from Thomas.
This is how it is.
For Thomas, he lives at a level 5 fear and I don't blame him one bit. Dan is "the man of the house" but he is not a loving father to Thomas and my marriage is an often tension-filled guessing game of when it will be that Dan will flip out and find fault with either me or Thomas. I want to make it clear that he doesn't physically abuse either Thomas or I but the constant unpredictability of our lives is tiring and frankly borders on it's own definition of abuse. Nobody, especially Thomas, should have to live under a constant cloud of fear but in the 14 years I've known Dan I have never found a solution to all of the issues. If he were consistently supportive of Thomas and his illness, our world would be a different place but instead we just never know what each day will bring.
So, Dr. K. initially thought it might be a good idea to have a family session or two with Dan and after Thomas and I told him in more detail what we deal with, Dr. K. decided to put that plan on a back burner and instead try to focus on helping Thomas cope with his fear. I am so angry that Thomas has to live like this. I am angry that he has to deal with the symptoms of his illness and then has to deal with this whole other level of stress.
Sadly, there are no solutions to it. I have tried, too many times to count, to figure out how to change things around here but I fail every single time. At this point all I can do is protect Thomas the best that I can and keep Thomas and Dan separated as much as possible. There is some semblance of a relationship there, they say hi to each other and sometimes they exchange talk about their day but it begins and ends there. There are no hugs, no "I'm proud of you son", and Thomas even stated last session that the only time in all of his life that he has seen Dan be kind was the day the police showed up after a Facebook friend of his called the police because Thomas was threatening suicide. It literally took the threat of Thomas wanting to end his life for Dan to find the empathy inside to care for Thomas and want the best for him.
I wish things were different. I wish that someone had the answer to the issues in our home but instead we will just go on living at status quo with Thomas living in constant fear. That is no way for anyone to live, especially for someone with schizophrenia but until we find a way to remedy our situation, this is our life.
For better or worse.