• 9/14/2011 11:10:52 PMFalse Epiphany Last week Friday we had one of the worst days possible.  Near the end of the day, Michael was contemplating killing himself by eating a cake of Glade air freshener but he changed his mind after mom and I explained some things to him.  I drew him a little line chart in the dirt of our driveway to represent the ups and downs of life and how by killing himself he would be throwing away all of the progress he has made in his life.  As time passes, the bad times don't seem as bad and ultimately, things become better than when you started.

    Afterward he said to me, "Thanks Dad.  This is good (referring to the chart in the dirt).  This clears up a lot for me."  Then Mom suggested to him that killing himself by eating a room deodorizer would likely be painful.  Michael had misread the label that said, "May cause bodily harm.  Liquifies at 125 degrees." and took that to mean any one who ate it would burst into flames that were 125 degrees and die.  She said, "do you really want to burst into flames from the inside?"  I don't think that Michael gave this too much thought.  She then told him that we chose him to be on our team so that we could all win together and not to have him come and destroy the family from the inside out.  Michael said, "I always imagined winning and being right by myself and alone.  Thank you for telling me this.  This changes everything."  My Corn-O-Meter went off the chart at this point as this sounded very strange and artificial.  I believe him when he says that he imagined being a one-man team and winning alone but the part about this crucial information changing everything...  This is the same message we've been giving him for 3.5 years.

    Now before you begin thinking that Michael has just experienced his first epiphany, let me share some more.  Michael has a condition called Spondylo Arthritis.  This is basically arthritis of the large joints such as knees, hips, and lower back.  He has been on some very powerful medication such as Methotrexate and Humira which put him into a medicated remission.  Earlier this year, the doctor said that his treatment had gone so well that after 18 months we would begin trying to ween him off of the medication.

    First we took him off of the Methotrexate and then slowly took him off of the Humira.  Things were going well for a while until he developed a problem with his right eye.  With this kind of arthritis, it is important to have an ophthalmologist on your team so they can watch for reaction within the eye.  Loss of vision is a common associated problem.  At first we thought he had a case of pink-eye but when we took him to the doctor, we learned that his iris had become stuck on his lens and was keeping his pupil open.  This was causing his eye to become inflamed and irritated.

    We put him on two kinds of eye drops - one to dilate his pupil and the other to bring down the swelling.  He was on this for an extended period of time with little success and in the end, we put him back on the Humira and he now has cataracts.  So anyway, this is the current state of his eye problems:  swelling and irritation are gone, no redness, he has some floaters in his eye, and he is back on Humira to keep everything in balance.  He is back in a medicated remission.

    Getting back to our original story, Michael has just experienced what appears to be an epiphany or some kind of small mental awakening.  However, for the last two weeks or so, Michael has had a very red eye.  At first we thought perhaps he was having some kind of relapse with his iris or perhaps the Humira wasn't working.  Today, Peggy brought him to the ophthalmologist and discovered that... get ready... there is nothing wrong with his eye!  Yet there it is - red.  Hmmmmm.....?????

    "What's going on here Michael?", asked Mom.  Forget all of that stuff about the epiphany because sometime ago, Michael concluded for some reason that is known only to him that rubbing his eye until it was bloodshot would be a great way to get attention and make people feel sorry for him.  He kept doing this repeatedly to irritate his eye and sustain the red color for nearly two weeks.

    How do I know this?  Because he told me!  Then - 30 minutes after the eye doctor appointment where the doctor did a grand total of NOTHING, the redness in his eye cleared up.  I shouldn't say that the doctor did nothing because he did TELL us that there was nothing wrong with his eye right after taking the money for the office visit.  No eye drops.  No cream.  No treatment.  30 minute later - no redness either.  What about a miracle?  NOT!

    All of this begs the question, "Why?"  Why go through all of the trouble and irritation for a little sympathy?  

    Consider the following story:  Once upon a time, there was a woman who had an order of delicious McDonald's french fries and she wanted to share them with her son.  Did you catch that?  SHE WANTED TO SHARE THEM.  So she offered a fry to the son.  "Here son.  Have this french fry.  I want you to have it.  Go ahead and take it", she said.  She reached in, grabbed a fry and extended her arm so that the french fry was right in front of the son and easily within his reach.  The son - wanting nothing to do with any free gifts, decided to trick the mom into looking away.  "Hey!  Look out the window!  I think I see a dragon!", exclaimed the son.  The mom briefly looked out the window while the son snatched the french fry out of her hand with the skill of a professional pick-pocket.  

    This doesn't directly answer the question of "why" but it does shed some light on a few things.  Michael does not like when love and affection is offered freely but prefers to trick other people into giving it to him.  Why is that?  Perhaps it is an issue of control since he cannot control the way another person loves him, when they do it, or how they show it.  Perhaps he feels empowered by taking it on his terms.  Perhaps it is a matter of trust.  If he takes love on his terms, then he can control the outcome, the duration, and the method.  Getting people to feel sorry for him about his eye is within his control.

    But also consider this: Michael has a long detailed track record of how controlling other people to get what he wants does not work out in his favor - yet he continues to try anyway.  He says that he is persistent because he hopes that one day it will work out even though so far it hasn't.  In fact, he has been punished many times and has many more enemies now than he did before.  Yet on the other hand, when he supposedly tries to just be a friend and develop good relationships with others, he claims that this doesn't work and he has no patience to continue trying.  This begs the question, "doesn't he know that he will get caught and that something bad will result from lying, cheating, and manipulating other people?"  After all, how could he NOT know.  He has the experience of thousands of encounters where it worked out poorly.  The question then becomes, "is he actually trying to make things better or is he trying to keep things bad?"