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My Adult Son is Starting to Bully Me
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My son is 22. He is a great guy in his own way but we are starting to get a problem right now in that he is starting to abuse me verbally as his father does.

My husband has been away for a week now on a 6 week holiday in SE Asia. Ok, that may sound odd, but he's not exactly a regular guy, for whatever reason. I'm sure he has Asperger's too, like my son, but there are other things too, like passive aggression and narcissism which can get sadistic. He (my husband) seems to have limited if any empathy and I think he treats me in a way that is heavily affected by how his parents bullied him. His mother obviously had Aspergers and his father was an alcoholic. There is no team partnership and he is very selfish and one-sided.

The first and previous time my husband went to SE Asia was 5 years ago. It was for 8 weeks. That time my oldest daughter, then 17, took over as resident bully. Now there is just my son and I in the home and my son is starting to bully me.

He criticizes me unpleasantly and it gets worse when I tell him I don't want him to do this. We don't keep at it though; just a couple of interchanges, but I find it very unpleasant. And he does what his father does in that he gets really mad and insulting at me when I ask him (nicely) not to speak to me like that - He makes loud dissatisfied and angry noises and storms off, shouting something negative as he goes.

Until my husband left, this wasn't an issue.

Can you think of what I might do?
Posted on 05/06/08, 10:25 am
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Reply #1 - 05/06/08  11:51am
" Rosem, This one is difficult. Your son is now an adult and you don't have as much control over his teatments and behaviors as you did when he was still a child. That being said, there are still some things that you might be able to do, depending on your current relationship and its dynamics.

Family therapy is one thing. I know that when I traveled for my job while I was still married, the dynamics at home changed significantly. This is normal. Part of what he is doing could be a lashing out at you because he doesn't have his father at his beck and call. He is lashing out at you simply because you are there.

By the way, he "learned" many of those abusive behaviors from his father. Have you hand him had any sorts of discussions about his father's behavior? How does he view it and feel about it? If you had, a GENTLE reminder that his behaviors look a lot like his father's could bring about a serious wake-up call. If you haven't, that try to encourage him into a few sessions of family therapy with you, with the hopes that he will come to recognize his behaviors for what they are and strive to change them.

He is still at an age where he has a very idealistic view of the world. His reality is the only one that exists (for him) and it is hard or impossible for him to acknowledge others. Part of the maturing process is coming to understand that not everyone views the world the same way you do. It is also something that the narcissist NEVER is able to accept, primarily because his reality is the only one that "counts."

My suggestion would be to seek out a therapist that you both trust and talk about these things. If your child has Asperger's, then his world is rocked seriously by any sort of change. His father taking an extended vacation is something that he is having difficulty dealing with right now, especially if he looks to his father for any type of emotional or other support. "Cutting him some slack" would be in order, provided it is in the form of acknowledging his anxieties and NOT in accepting his abusive behaviors. "
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Reply #2 - 05/06/08  1:42pm
" Revpatty has the best advise, just like she usually does!!! Give some family counseling a try. It might be a bit easier with it just being you and your son for right now while your husband is away.

The other thing I thought of is that he is filling the void while your husband is gone. Your husband's absence in the house has created a "vacum" and your son is trying to fill it by being just like him. Or as close to just like him as he can get without getting in serious trouble with you. He clearly learned that it is acceptable behavior by having lived with it, and as the "man of the house" with his father gone this is how he thinks men should act.

I am sorry you are going through this right now. It is certainly the last thing you need while you have this brief period of time to sort out some things. But maybe, just maybe, it is a reminder that you need to heed. A reminder of what is missing from your life right now with your husband away. If you aren't going to tolerate it from your son, maybe you will be less apt to tolerate it from your husband upon his return. Just a thought. "
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Reply #3 - 05/06/08  6:20pm
" Thanks queenvalerie and revpatty. I appreciate your help.

Yes, it is tricky.

I have always treated my son with respect. A lot more was needed with him early on as he has a neurological problem. But he has a lot going for him and I always loved him and could share in something lovely in his personality. But it never was a normal relationship, just as it never has been with my husband. I am seeing the similarities and have been for some time as my son has finally become more assertive and confident. What I see most of all there is a massive unchangability and their unwillingness to meet me at some halfway point, even if this means just listening and considering and then wanting something different. But some sort of negotiation surely come in at some points and it is striking that there is none with either beyond purely practical jugglings like "I can do it later but just not right now".

Last night when my son was so horrid, it was like a turning point for me only I'm still turning. I did get a jolt just the other day from him though but I sortof excused it as I overeacted a bit. Then the little maltese got her paw trapped in his shoelaces when she was jumping up at him, greeting him when he came home from work. She is such a loving little thing. She yelped in the repeted way dogs do when they are very hurt and I made a loud exclamation out of anxiety, an "Oogh!" sort of thing. It just slipped out. And he told me off just as my husband does if I express any emotion. I did tell him simply and calmly that he was acting just like his father and he exploded and stormed off just as his father would if I criticized him, only his father would be in my face. So I guess it doesn't work to communicate assertively to him as if he was functioning normally. That goes for both of them.

Actually I've never been able to talk much to my son. He doesn't like a lot of talking; even more than brief comments. I did try a few times as he got older but I hit a wall and it is obvious he doesn't like it, so I have always been very careful; the walking on eggshells thing. So I don't get much chance to say anything before the knock back comes and that knockback distresses me because of its unpleasantness more than anything else. So I don't think we can talk.

And I don't see therapy as viable.

I hope I'm not being difficult with your responses. I just can't see how I can do much. And I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I've been feeling basically stuck in hopelessness. Generally. Sometimes I think I'm over it and am feeling ok but I think it's really like in that old Gordon Lightfoot song :

"Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feeling better when I'm feeling no pain
Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feeling better when I'm feeling no pain" "
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Reply #4 - 05/06/08  6:56pm
" Honey you are stretched so thin right now you are practically transparent. I was sincerely hoping that you would get a 6 week reprieve of sorts. A time to sort through and either validate your feelings regarding your situation or not. But now you are facing a whole new dillema and I fear that you won't be able to make much progress during this down time with your husband away.

With the full understanding that your son has true neuroligical issues that translate into emotional difficulties for all of you, rosie, honey, eventually you need to find some way to validate yourself. To empower yourself to withstand this constant barage of knocks your are taking. No situation is ever completely hopeless, even though they sometimes feel that way. You are here with us now and somehow, someway, we will all help you figure out a new direction. You really do need to find one. This path is leading to a place I can't imagine you will ever be happy with. Tolerant maybe, but never happy. "
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Reply #5 - 05/06/08  7:06pm
" Thanks queenvalerie.

Yes, that is how it is. And I appreciate the support; it feels like a safety net and right now I am falling.

I am a reasonably tolerant person anyway and I guess that factors in with the family. So I don't get eaten up with anger or keep trying to control too much that it doesn't make sense to. But I am still the sad possessor of a lot of internal misery. I have been working on that for a long time and I have found ways to cope somewhat. In fact I've achieved a fair bit, considering. But I see the blocks and difficulties lined up against me and the mountain of them seems just too high. And the stress of having no security and limited finances is getting to me. "
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Reply #6 - 05/07/08  4:40pm
" If talking things through isn't an option How about writing him a letter, maybe one that just lays out ground rules without alot of explaining

If that's not an option, can you identify the trigger points, times that might be likely to lead to problems, like when he comes home, and somehow avoid them, so for example you might have a nap when he comes home "
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Reply #7 - 05/08/08  8:10am
" Thanks AuldQuine .

Yes, I think strategies have to come into it.

I guess that when I talk I should say very little.

Also, when I talk, I have to plan it so that it is going to be effective.

Also I need to settle for zero relationship.

But I'm still confused about what to do when I get abused. It obviously doesn't work to say anything. What if I just detach and walk away, saying nothing? "
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Reply #8 - 05/08/08  8:26am
" I just read your profile and see that you are considering leaving your husband because of his abuse. Maybe its time for your adult son to leave home too.

I also read your comments on counselling and agree that when one partner is an abuser, that has to be dealt with first. Its like when one partner is an alcoholic they have to get help and stop drinking before the couple can work together

You deserve a life free from abuse of any kind, it amy be that the only way to acheive that is to live apart from your husband and son. They need to know that their behaviour is totally and absolutely unacceptable, not just that you don't like it. They may never understand or accept this, but leaving your husband and making your son leave home will be a very strong statment to them and I sense that you care deaply for them and want them to understand this for their own sakes not just for your own "
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Reply #9 - 05/08/08  8:56am
" Strictly speaking from personal experience, detaching and walking away works just fine. Create a bubble of apathy around the situation. Do not try to control it, do not try to manage it, do not try to change it. In all honesty what you will be doing in ignoring it. This accomplishes 2 things. First it gives you breathing room to be away and apart from the abuse. Second it sends a clear signal to all involved that you are away and apart. I do not, under any circumstances, mean that you should feel apathetically about your son. I only mean that you can try to feel apathetically about his actions.

Please bear in mind that detachment and apathy will protect *you* but does absolutely nothing to change the abusive behavior. It only alters your reaction, or rather *non-reaction* to it. Your son may never change his behavioral patterns. What you *can* change is how you react to it. Turn your back, leave the room, lock yourself in the bathroom and soak in the tub or something but do not react to his abusive behavior. Do not try to fix him or change him or make him see the light. Your only concern when you do this is to protect yourself. Notice please that I did not say "defend" yourself. Detachment is exactly that. Don't react. At all. That is one damn hard thing to do but you can't just keep taking it either. Eventually something will snap and trust me on this one; your abusers will make sure that is you. "
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Reply #10 - 05/08/08  9:13am
" Thank you queen valerie.

Yes, that "clicks" with me. I think you are right. And I know exactly what you mean. And I can do it. And I WILL do it. I have been detaching increasingly better generally anyway.

And I think now, because of recent events with my son, including one tonight (it is late here) when I tried to talk with him (not about his behavior) that there is no hope of getting him to be any different to his father. I tried all his life to set him up to be a full, decent and caring person. But it didn't work and I don't thnk it will. He is one of them, like my husband's family. Well, so be it. I can't do anything about it. I can just behave as well as I can and look after myself. "

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