Hmmmm….when I first read your email my mind went blank. If I had to choose, leaning towards “no, he didn’t really own the drinking incident.”
I don’t think he really had a chance to see his shadow in our session together. I sense rather than seeing it as an “explanation” and taking responsibility, he blames solely the alcohol as the excuse for the incident. His defensive walls we now realize went up when I shared the description of his behavior from others…at that point kind of shutdown. The no going over to his girlfriends house was a clunker – later, we deemed it the right place for him to go so he could apologize and close the loop with her parents.
We kept him home Thursday (which was a roller coaster of emotions. He was still discovering that what he did was violence against someone (for some reason he defined violence as throwing a punch). As the afternoon worn on, with several neutral corner moments, he invited us out to dinner. It was reflective, poignant and just what the doctor ordered; however, the overriding emotion was he was going to miss his girlfriend – I sense this is getting in the way of the deeper insights required. Recognizing GF and their relationship was really his only tangible thing he could “hold on to” (and “control”), it became resoundingly clear again to me and Susan this is an incredibly young 18 yr old and in a very fragile state of mind.
He got a goods sleep that night (for once) and next afternoon/evening saw his girlfriend and her parents. He definitely did see his shadow that night. Her parents, we all talked prior to him seeing them. Incredibly cool and understanding. We were all on the same page with everything, with a laser focus on the drinking and physical abuse. Unfortunately, the next time we had him alone was the few minutes before we put him on the bus. Looking back this is turning into a long email so I will tighten it up from here.
The bus had a breakdown somewhere in middle of Pa. He became unhinged. He eventually got himself on another bus and had a good time with a family friend in the city. Next day at a birthday party, he became agitated again. First time anywhere solo, with no friends, no family (another first experience). Then he got to his room where the summer help sleeps and he went off the rails again. “Of all people, Dad, I thought you would put in a position for success. This is not what I need.” To keep from escalating the situation his mom spent the next 2-3 hours trying to settle him down (ditto older brother). I was losing patience and was coming close to pursuing a traditional Dad-track to “nut up, take responsibility and quit acting like a spoiled kid.”
Hopefully a little sun, a bunch of physical labor, no cell phone until he gets home from work and a little time will center him. The labor is hard and he his body will be sore for next 3-4 days. Easy sailing is a ways away!