28
Nov
14

“enabler”

Greyhound-Bus-580x381

Today Alex has left to return to Pensacola. He was here for just shy of three months. The experience didn’t turn out as I had hoped or expected, but it has been a valuable learning experience for me and—when he has had a chance to reflect on it—hopefully for him, too.

The first month went very well. But two months ago he began communicating with a young woman who very quickly occupied most of his waking hours. Coincidental with this development, he ceased being present, his commitment to all work ceased, and he became poor company.

I’m not sure he would agree with me, but my perception is that his interactions became antisocial. He stopped working around the house. He also stopped writing for this blog, but more importantly, for a time he even stopped writing for himself.

When I complimented him as his personal productivity resumed, he chose to take offense rather than accepting the spirit in which the compliment was intended. He seemed inclined to blame me for his failure to accept a personal role in our increasingly strained relationship. I would have preferred that he regarded the responsibility as shared.

Unintended slights were interpreted as “disrespect,” and he stated that he was not interested in finding a resolution to our differences. He’d quit.

I have told Alex that I would welcome him back to Estrella Vista anytime, but that he must bring with him a commitment to get along or not to bother.

Ironically, I received word from our fiscal agent a few days ago that we had received a matching grant from the employer of one of our most loyal supporters. Suddenly the funds were available for us to settle a debt that the state of Florida says Alex owes it, plus to purchase the pickup we wanted to buy for him.

At the same time, one of Alex’s former girlfriends wrote a comment on this blog that accused me of “enabling” a pattern of irresponsible behavior. She accused me of some other things with which I disagree, but I would have to agree with her that we do not want to be guilty of enabling unhealthy behavior. I have always believed that the purpose of the Redemption Project should be to level the playing field, not to reward irresponsible acts.

So the funds will not be spent right now to benefit him. It is preferable that he pursues his chosen path and earns the equivalent himself.

As Alex reminded me, yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of his father’s death. The road to recovery from parricide is long and arduous and has many unexpected turns. Anyone looking for quick and easy answers—parricide and supporter alike—will not find them here. But setbacks can be a valuable teacher, too. That is why our commitment to support of these young people is lifelong and unconditional. However that is not to be interpreted as Carte Blanche.

I continue to have faith that every person has the ability to find the best answers to life when they are free to choose for themselves.

۞

Groove of the Day

Listen to George Jones performing “Choices”


1 Response to ““enabler””


  1. November 29, 2014 at 4:45 am

    “When I complimented him as his personal productivity resumed”
    In my experience, when someone acts like a teenager, you only compliment him on things he seems to be eager to do and get recognition for. You never do it for things which he would interpret as “I was right and you have no choice” or as him obeying and accepting your authority over him. You either ignore it altogether or just thank him for helping. And not make a fuss. So, “wish I had a six-pack like that” is great. But “good that you’ve gone back to the six-pack workout I taught you” is very bad. Instead, you just keep quiet or say “that was some serious effort there”.

    “but that he must bring with him a commitment to get along or not to bother”
    As much as I would agree on the Carte Blanche, this is not it. This is making rules. Rules he’s been facing most of his life. Rules meant to make someone look bad in his own eyes. “I will let you play with my toy, but you must promise not to break it”. It’s saying “you’re a bad person who will break my toy”. Most people will always try to take care of other people’s things to the extent they are capable of. If they were not taught that, such comments will not teach them, just make them realize there is a huge wall between the two of you. I know you were trying to teach Alex good things, but think you chose the bad way. Actually, the same way that’s in place in prisons.

    It seems to me you’ve had somewhat romantic and idealized vision of how Alex is and how he would be. You seem to have expected the very best of what you believe he’s capable of. But I think the only way to truly help these kids/people is to expect their worst and still show them they are welcome. Then work on improvement; slowly. From all your posts in the past year or so, I thought that’s how you see it, too. But now it seems that either that was not the case or you’re just a bit.. frustrated now. By Alex’s not being what you hoped he would be or by your not being able to “get to him”. Either way, I believe the “unconditional” acceptance is the right and only way to go and that this one experience should not make it harder for your other “clients” to get it. Whatever has happened between you and Alex is not their fault.

    When thinking about the right reaction, my mind keeps going back to that scene of Paul Henry being questioned at the police (and having an obvious nervous breakdown) and his mother coming in. She just hugged him and kept saying “I forgive you”. That was the hardest, but also the only right thing to do. Unconditional forgiveness, although he was yet to learn just how unforgivable thing he had done. With her saying literally anything else at that moment, I don’t think Paul Henry would’ve lasted a day. Speaking of whom, do you have any update on him that you can share?


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