Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #46
–Sessions: 35 of 53
Monday, October 26, 2009 8:00am
Blood Donation, Apheresis, Number 304, 38Gallons
I told Elsie what had been happening with my mother since our last session. I described the effort needed to move all of her belongings out of her apartment to storage, the money involved, the storage unit, shipping the photo albums and how I was trying to stabilize the situation. I told her that Snap wanted me to have the photo albums to keep them safe. Elsie says this is because he sees you as the older brother, that you will take care of the photos.
I told her that Snap still talks about our mother coming home and he doesn’t know why the doctors say she has dementia. Elsie says these are signs of how tightly tied to her he was and how bad it will be when she dies.
My older son, at college, was doing well. He talks to us frequently using Skype. He told us about some “interesting” questions on his midterms. Elsie asks what his grades were, I didn’t know at that point. He was in the middle of his first quarter at college. He seemed to be fine, relaxed. When we last visited him, his roommate’s mother appeared to wash her son’s bed sheets. During the time we were visiting she also returned with more bedding in addition to what she had washed. I was amazed at just how much some parents really do hover over their students even after they have left for college.
He had a very close friend during high school that was having a birthday party. His friend wasn’t going to college and wasn’t sure he would be able to at all due to money issues due to his parents getting divorced. Due to my son’s schedule, he would have to come home to attend the party and then return to college the same day. It was a 2 hours drive each way. I told Elsie that I asked my son what he wanted to do. He told me that it was important to him to attend his friend’s birthday party, so I drove to his dorm, drove him to the party, drove him back to his dorm and drove home.
Elsie told me she was stunned how much driving I did, but that this was hugely important for my son’s friend. She said this was a good example of my being a good man, not just nice. I didn’t know what to say.
I talked about my volunteering for the marching band. I was really tired of the endless pressure to do more and more and more. It seems like there is a downward spiral, those that do volunteer get so much pressure to do more that some quit, which means more pressure on those that remain. I had been upset that more parents don’t help at all while I’m pressured to do more.
Elsie agreed, based on her own experience. She had students in high school and she had volunteered many times at their school. She agreed that the band volunteers needed to spend more time recruiting to get more help. She said I should have called out the parents that didn’t help. I didn’t have the balls to do that. She said she did call out some parents once, but it didn’t change anything.
At this point in my life, I had a lot going on. I had a son that had just moved away to college. I had a son in high school marching band and I was volunteering a lot of hours there. I was trying to figure out and resolve my mother’s financial and health care issues. I was trying to get Snap out of debt and set him up in his own apartment so that he could support himself. I was having my mother’s stuff shipped to me and I had to do something with all that stuff as it arrived at my home. I also had a full time job.
It suddenly got even more complicated. My wife was also volunteering with the marching band. She was helping with the uniforms for the over two hundred students in the band. This was a lot of work. At one of the band competitions, while rushing to handle a uniform related crisis, she fell and hurt her ankle. The next day, the doctor told us she had broken her ankle. She wouldn’t be able to walk or drive for at least six weeks. I had to drive my youngest son to and from school each day, and get him to and from all his other activities. I had to drive as needed for my oldest son to get to and from college. I had to care for my wife while she recovered and get her to and from many medical appointments. I hadn’t thought things could get any more intense, but they suddenly did.
Elsie was shocked. She was concerned how I would handle all this.
After this session, I called the nursing home to find out what was going on with the various bills. It was complicated. Even when someone is on Medicaid, the nursing home charges the patient, or the patient’s family, for the first two days of each month the patient is in the nursing home. Now that Medicaid had made the assessment that my mother couldn’t be cared for at home, her Social Security check would go directly to the nursing home. This is how the first two days of each month of the nursing home would be paid in the future. This also meant that however much Snap had been living off my mother’s Social Security checks, that was over. He would have to live on his own income.
The nursing home had not been paid for this month. They wanted the Social Security check from this month brought to them. I told Snap to take the check to them as soon as he got it. He had taken more photo albums to the UPS store to be shipped to me.
Later on he called me. Our mother was on new meds to treat her bi-polar condition and she had been taken off the blood thinners. I didn’t know all the medications she had been on or why they were changing. There was another credit card that needed to be paid off. This account had gone to a different collections agency, another organization that I couldn’t talk to because I wasn’t on the account.
Things were about to get stranger still. Snap called again, this time to tell me he needed $300 to pay the movers. I was confused. I had been carefully taking notes and I was confident I had given him more than enough money to pay the movers. He had very clearly told me a week ago that there were no more moving expenses. He became irritated with me and told me that I didn’t “get it.” I had asked him specifically what his expenses were. He had told me multiple times in recent weeks that he would be self sufficient. Now he tells me that his paycheck won’t cover his rent that is due, let alone a car payment and car insurance.
The only thing I could guess was that when he told me he was self sufficient he meant that his paycheck and the money I had given him were enough for the expenses he had right at that moment. Now that he had to pay his rent and car expenses, the check he had written to the movers was going to bounce.
My mother and my siblings always had lots of story. But that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that Snap didn’t have enough income to pay his expenses. This was a simple fact. When I tried to discuss this fact, he became irritated with me.
I wanted to describe this all to you, in detail, because it illustrates a very important point. It had taken me many weeks to get to this simple fact, and still, Snap would not talk about it. I had to figure it out on my own. I had spent thousands of dollars that only delayed the inevitable. Money spent because we couldn’t talk about the reality of the situation. This is the core issue of what brought me to therapy. Elsie described this, during our first session, as ACA, the adult child of an alcoholic. My mother would not allow anyone to discuss what was really happening. There was always lots of drama and lots of story but nothing that addressed the simple facts of what was happening and how do deal with it. I could see the reality but I was punished if I ever tried to discuss it. Snap was unhappy with me because I tried to discuss the reality of his financial situation.
I took the information I had about his paycheck and expenses and I tried to estimate his average monthly income and a budget. No matter how I computed it, there wasn’t enough income to cover the expenses I knew about let alone have money for things like car repair, clothes or any savings. I did put $300 into his account. I had no clue where this was going from here. Unless things changed, he would be expecting me to provide money to him every month to make up the difference between his income and his expenses.
He had started using a computer at the local library for email. I emailed him asking if he had taken the Social Security check to the nursing home. He emailed back that he had the first of two installments and when he got the second installment he would pay the nursing home. I had no clue why the Social Security checks would be coming in installments. There was always lots of story, there was never any discussion of the simple facts.
I had started the process to pay off the remaining credit card account. I had contacted the collection agency handling this account. They wouldn’t tell me the payoff amount. They did tell me that they would only take a money order. I would have to go to WalMart to send a money order. They required that I have various client ID numbers on the money order. They were making it very difficult for me to pay them off. Snap would have to contact them to get the pay off amount.
I emailed Snap asking him to get the pay off amount. He called me, our mother was back in the hospital with pneumonia. He told me the pay off amount was $466. I emailed him asking him to find out if that payoff amount would apply a week from now or a month from now. I knew that interest charges would increase the payoff amount over time. The laptop I ordered had arrived. I tested it, installed and updated the web browser, updated the operating system, found the user manual online and downloaded a copy to the laptop and shipped it to Snap.