Triangles

N. went to the youth shelter on Mayfair after the Broken Glass episode, Monday evening, December 6. When a worker at the shelter called me, I asked if he had contacted his mother yet. My question was based on my belief that n. still thought his mother would help him if she thought I was being mean to him. The worker said he had been on the phone to her.


Jan called me on Tuesday and reported that he had been angry and threatening violence towards me and Claire. She spent Tuesday morning trying to reach the psychiatric resident who had seen n. last week and then trying to get a provincial Magistrate to issue an Order under the Mental Health Act that would require the police to apprehend n. for a medical and psychiatric examination. She did not get the order on Tuesday. The magistrate thought – correctly – that she had failed to prove that n. was refusing to get help or to be examined. I thought that was a legal technicality. I thought her endeavour was misguided. N. is not mentally ill. He has an addiction, and he acts out under the combined forces of drugs and frustration when he cannot have his way.
I called one of n’s friends and left a message that I had not called the police about the door, that I was not angry, and that I was still willing to help n. if he would accept my kind of help. I checked with the TRY program to see if n. had come back on Tuesday and left a message for him to call me. He called me on Wednesday. We had coffee, and I bought him some tobacco. He wanted me to give him $60 so he could be Christmas presents for his friends. I said that didn’t sound right. He wanted money for food and I gave him $8.00 and reminded him that I knew that he knew he had other resources. He showed me something on his belt. I didn’t see it clearly and he said it was hatchet, tucked in the belt of his jeans. He said that his actions on Monday were my fault, because I had called Danielle’s parents a few weeks ago, and they had been restricting her activities, forcing n. to cut classes to see her.
On Thursday, when I told Jan about that meeting, she told me that one of n’s threats against me had been to get a hatchet and get fingers. I said that he had been acting crazy to get her attention and sympathy. While it wasn’t helping him to get shelter and resources from her, it was engaging her. On Friday, Jan checked with n’s psychiatrist again and learned that he had cancelled his appointment, citing other pressing business. On Saturday (Dec. 11) she said she was going to try to get the Order. When she told me about her plan, she was insistent that I should support her plans, which brought back some memories of her insistence on following her heart and her instinct, even when her ideas were plainly stupid. She must have spent a lot of time at the Magistrate’s desk at the police station. She eventually got the order, later in the day. She told the Magistrate that when he called her for money and food on Saturday, day, she offered to take him to a hospital and he turned down her offer. She also told the magistrate that I had seen n’s hatchet.
Meanwhile n. called me on Saturday and asked if I would meet him and Danielle for lunch. He said they had stayed with Mark on Friday but needed food. I picked them up and took them to Subway and listened to their story. Danielle had been staying with her aunt, and had run away to be with n. on Thursday (Dec. 9). So far she had been with him for two days. I asked how it was and if it was what she wanted. N. was uncomfortable with my questions. N. complained that his mother had refused to meet with them unless he let her take him to the hospital. I said that he should understand that threats and displays of anger would not help his mother or me to let him live with either of us, and that the rational response to his threats was to call the police. I gave him some bus tickets and a one week bus pass to help him get to the TRY program next week, if we wanted to go. I reminded him that he could still go, although he would need some remedial work now.
I told them that there was a forecast for cold, wind and snow in the evening and n. told me that he had many places they could stay. When I dropped them at Mark’s house n. asked me for money. He said that Danielle’s parents had not signed a placement agreement and that she could not use CFS resources. He needed money to take care of her. I said he should stop putting pressure on her to be with him on his terms.
At some point during the night the police called and asked if n. had come home. I told them he had not. During the afternoon on Sunday (Dec. 12) he called and angrily complained that the police were looking for him. He called again later Sunday evening and said that he was back in a CFS placement and he complained about the police attending at his friend’s house. I said that he had convinced his mother that he sick. He called me on Monday, wanting me to deliver clean clothes to his hotel room. I said I would drop them in the evening. When I checked, he had left for the evening and told the worker I would drop his clothes in the morning. He called me well after midnight, angry that I had not delivered his clothes. I repeated what I told the worker, and I dropped his clothes Tuesday morning.
As far as I can tell, he has spent most of his time in the last couple of weeks with his friends, doing drugs, hounding Danielle for affection and sex, and complaining about how the world does not understand him. Anything I say or do is turned into an excuse for more drugs and anger. He rightly perceives that I do not approve of his lifestyle and that I do not believe that he wants to change. I want to believe that I am trying to forgive past problems and to support change. He accuses me of rejection and contempt.
Among his calls on Sunday and Monday, he said that Danielle had complained that I had looked at her critically on Saturday, and he told me that I should stop judging them. I didn’t argue with him. I thought that I had been very neutral with Danielle and n. on Saturday. I thought that n. was sounding like Jan, echoing her judgments about me. Her story was that my skepticism of her involvement with Network Marketing and New Age spirituality was painful to her, and amounted to emotional abuse, and that my problem is that I am too critical and skeptical. In n’s case the issues are drugs and responsibility. Like Jan, he tries to support his own discomfort at my disapproval of his values by saying that I make other people uncomfortable.
He is making a mess of his life, but blaming his problems on my insensitive refusal to approve of his beliefs and lifestyle. When he presents the issue that way, I see the emotional triangles of his childhood. He is threatening to tell Jan that I am being mean to him when I don’t fit myself into his agenda, and appealing to Jan to take care of him as if he was still a child.

3 thoughts on “Triangles”

  1. Whew. That was a gruelling read. I hope this situation somehow, miraculously resolves itself… peacefully for all concerned.

  2. Brave Kelso

    I haven’t heard from Dave, or checked on him after dropping his clothes. I think he is dropping back into the rhythm of street life. He may get back to the TRY program but I think that’s Catch 22. If he attends TRY, he will miss Danielle. If she breaks it off, he will be too stressed for TRY.
    I don’t think he understands that playing his mother off against me is not getting him anywhere anymore. His displays of anger get her attention and sympathy. It feeds her sense that I have let her and David down, and it helps her to criticize me for causing it all. Perhaps he gets something out of her concern, but it isn’t working to get him the tangible things he wants. I wonder if he can figure it out. He has to change, or stay stuck in his hell for a long time.

  3. I have to agree with ZZ…a tough read. I am worried about you both, and Claire. I also hope it can be resolved peacefully. My family is sharing related stresses of residual anger going back decades. I wonder why things turn out the way they do. All we can do is continue to lend support to one another.

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