Sunday, January 19, 2014

"I don't deserve it."

Rough patch with Tortuga these days.  This is his trauma time and to his credit he made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas with very few bumps.  It is clear that the root of his issues continues to be his self concept.  A few days before Christmas we were having lunch and he announce to his siblings that Christmas was "not going to be a good one" this year.  He often operates from two extremes (everything is going to be terrible or everything is going to be amazingly fantastic) and he is often disappointed. If things go well then they didn't go as well as expected/anticipated so he is upset and disappointed. If things go poorly then he was right and everything always goes badly so he is upset and disappointed.  This time I pushed the question and asked him why it wasn't going to be a good one. He said "because I don't deserve it."


That is how he feels and that is likely part of the reason he sabotages almost everything.  A few years ago he took guitar lessons and he developed into a very talented guitar player.  It was pretty much the only thing he has ever been really good at and out of the blue he just stopped playing. No amount of encouragement has gotten him to change him mind about this. For a long time after he stopped raging we found that by leaving his guitar on its stand near his bed we could prevent him from becoming destructive. The threat of our taking his guitar away if he got destructive was enough to keep him in check. Around the time he stopped playing he started "accidentally" bumping into his guitar or hitting it with shoes, books, notebooks or whatever else he was tossing around when he got mad.  We eventually had to take the guitar away to keep it safe but we keep it in the hall where he can see it in case he gets motivated to play.  It has been almost a year since he played guitar and he has no reason beyond "I don't feel like playing." I think there might be a little truth to that but I actually believe his own success scared him.

Fast forward to this interesting revelation about Christmas expectations.  I tried to probe it a little more but couldn't get anything else out of him.  I know that we have to work on his self esteem issues but this is an area where we are at a serious loss.  He quits everything he tries as soon as it gets too hard or feels like too much work.  He doesn't cultivate interests of his own but moves from one obsession to another based on what his younger siblings are into.   He then tries to take ownership of them, arguing with his siblings and declaring that they have been his passions forever. He even goes so far as arguing with his youngest brother as though everything in his life depends on convincing Pollito that Pollito never had that interest.  Tortuga also tends to quit if he isn't the "best" right away even if the thing he is trying is new to him.

I am always in awe of the rest of the kids because they are so patient with him. They want to include him even if he works hard to ruin things for them.  The other day we were speaking with the children (Tortuga wasn't there) about giving and taking and the nine year old asked quite innocently. "Why does Tortuga only take? He never gives."  Corazon added that she had noticed that recently and gave an example of the only times he offers to share or lend anything he always stipulates that he has to get something in return (and usually something that is clearly off limits or more highly valued that whatever he offers.)  "What is that about?" she asked.  How can we explain that Tortuga suffers from a serious sense of selfishness and entitlement while simultaneously suffering from the very low self concept?  Especially when I am not so sure I understand it myself.

He has no qualms about sharing his magazine with Corazon ("because it's really not a very good one") while at the same time offering it to her in exchange for her lending her prized horse collection.  When she turns him down he feels fully entitled to getting angry at her because "it's not fair" and me for not "making" her agree to his terms.  He moves through his life feeling like he is "owed" something. What the "something" is doesn't really matter and changes constantly. It doesn't seem to make much difference how much we give him because he just takes and takes and takes and takes. That hole inside of him just seems to be a bottomless pit that can never be filled. If that's the case where to we go from here?

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