Sunday, August 30, 2009


This is a messy blur of a photo, isn't it? And that is so, so fitting. A mess - as my life at the moment is a mess. Blurry - a blurr I really don't understand.

This is the top of my dresser....that until a few months ago was always tidy and sweet-looking. Not that all my spaces are such, but this one was. Everything on my dresser was "useful or beautiful" (or just gave me joy) as William Morris would have suggested. The china dish given to my by my very elderly babysitter - the one that had been given to her as a child. A pink cut-glass dish given to my by a friend in Oregon....a heart-shaped ring box Sergei made for me his first year here...the cute little Red Army soldier toy that made me smile whenever I looked at him, and all of my favorite jewelry....nearly all of it antique or Russian or...having some significance.

It has all lain in this disarray since the early spring night when Maxim, angry about something that I suppose neither of us would remember came storming into my bedroom and woke me - looming above me and yelling. Usually he would yell without damaging anything, and probably the fact that it was dark was most of the problem....but he either slammed his arm down, or gestured, or something - the result was that everything on my dresser came crashing to the floor. I don't deny I screamed and sobbed and Maxim disappeared. I cried myself to sleep, unable to look at the results of this horror. A few days later, Sergei, dismayed that I'd left it all scattered around the floor, put everything back on the dresser - like this.

I do not know why I have not been able to clean it up. Perhaps it is simply because I don't want to see what was broken. I don't want to see what can't be repaired. I saw broken silver chains, the china feather separated (at least) from the lid of the jewelry box....pieces of the cut-glass dish.
I don't want to know.

And the longer it sits there, the less motivated I am to sort it out. I guess this mess stands as some sort of symbol of something. Something that doesn't entirely involve Maxim. I thought that when he left, I'd pick it up. But I don't want to. My past life in shatters? The pretty and the organized and the beautiful in shatters? I really don't know. I could pick it up. I could do it right now. But there is something that makes me want to just leave it there.

Perhaps I just lack courage. This might have been a sort-of depressing TTT (Too True Tuesday) post, but I also think I ought to give an update on Maxim.
I hardly know how to write about Maxim, but since I wrote about him so much when he was with us, I can't just drop him as a "character", particularly as that would give the wrong idea. I see him a few times a week.

But, really, I do not know how or what to write. It is early days, and I am not certain how things will turn out.....

I can write the good stuff....I think he is determined to do well at school this year. He has volunteered that he thinks he is better off where he is. When I asked why, he said it was because they "picked him up on time". I happen to know that they intend for him to ride the school bus and not be picked up at all, but I will save that for them to share. They also tell me that he will make it clear to them that life was so, so much better at my house. So, he plays both sides against each other, to some purpose of his own.

He tries to hurt me because on some level - though he begged for a different family "without all these kids" - he feels rejected, and does hurt me by telling me they did more for him in three weeks than I did in three years. He means he went on vacation with them, I think. And he had a good time. And, from my point of view they do do more for him, that there are three adults in that house - the at-home pastor, his at-home wife, and a grown daughter who teaches at a Christian school. They have the time and the energy to give him the attention he needs and a lot of intelligence in their approach to him, I think. He is chafing under their rules and under other constraints, but basically I think he is doing better. Mrs. P is home during the day as is the pastor, so she makes a cooked lunch - something Maxim suggested I ought to do. Yet, they tell me he constantly complains about her cooking, saying mine was much tastier and with better quality food.

He is no more honest than he ever was - with me. I'd started carrying a bit of cash in my purse and the night he invited himself to stay the night, it disappeared. My charge card suddenly got x-box charges on it. I'd forgotten that since this was Sergei's x-box and not his own, the ban I'd put on his own machine with the x-box Live people was not in force. Trust him to remember it and take advantage of me.

We had our worst set-to earlier this week. He was at our house when I got home. I was dead tired, had to haul groceries in from the car, needed to make dinner, but Maxim at first cajoled, then urged and somehow succeeded in getting me to drive him home in my car. Once in that confined place he asked me to buy him cigarettes. Told me he was dying. School was too hard. he couldn't take the homework; the football coach wasn't playing him; he needed to smoke. He was going to quit school and run away if he didn't get a smoke....and I was supposed to buy him cigarettes.

There was a short period of time when, to prevent the boys from smoking the butts they found on the street - and prior to enrolling them in an anti-smoking program, I bought them cigarettes. Well, he wanted to revisit this, which I had sworn I never, ever would do.

My protestations that it was illegal, that I didn't have money for cigarettes, that he needed to buck up, that he'd get kicked off the football team if they knew he smoked, were all interrupted by the above claims that he could not go on - he would not go on, without cigarettes. He was yelling, saying absolutely horrible things to me - even worse than the above claim that they'd done so much more for him. Well, I hardly knew what to do. As his anger level was rising, all I could think about was my new car and I surely didn't want to see the windshield broken as he broke the windshield on the van. At this point I was leaning over the wheel, crying, determined I wouldn't be threatened into buying cigarettes for this kid, but not wanting to have my car and belongings destroyed. Fortunately, I was saved by the door opening in the house across the street. He got shaken and dashed out and into his own house.

Later in the week he called and apologized and asked me to go to his football game. I forgave him, of course. I said I'd come to the game if I could, but would not give him a ride home because I didn't want to be alone in the car with him again. He said he understood and just wanted me to come. In the end it was cold and raining and I already had chills and a terrible sinus headache, so I didn't go. I wouldn't have gone to anyone's anything that night. Though he'll never believe it.


Elena's Mom said...

Oh, Annie! I know you don't want pity, but I feel so bad for you. I, too, feel like I'm in a big hole right now. Actually, I feel exiled and imprisoned at the same time. What I thought was going to work out, hasn't. But I feel guily feeling this way when you have so much more going on. I thought Maxim was far away. I'm sorry he's trying to bully you. I don't know what to say.
Hugs, my friend!

RML said...

Hi Annie, I am so sorry about the mess on your dresser...maybe someone trusted could sort it out for you and let you know the damage. It would be nice if you could have something beautiful to look at again.

Thanks for the Maxim update. I feel for you all.

Tina in CT said...

This is easy for me to say as I am not in your shoes. My advice is to break all ties with Maxim. He is TROUBLE. Do it before he hurts you, one of your children or your property.

I think the military would make a man out of him.

He is so manipulative. You have enough on your plate with 4 children at home and your husband working in Korea.

Susan said...

It almost sounds like you need a restraining order on him...I agree with Tina!

Elizabeth said...

Having 3 adults makes a huge difference! I am really thankful I grew up in a big family. But I know the older kids at least often feel resentment that their parents are busy with the others. It's one of the few downsides (although it's not necessarily a downside).

So I guess it would make it that much more complicated when adoption and a difficult early childhood is involved.

This is all to say that there's no need to compare your family with another! The investments you have put into the kids far outweigh any of these hardships.

Annie said...

I spent my childhood wishing, wishing, wishing I had a large family - so it really surprises me when the kids utter something like this. Maxim is more needy than most, but Sergei occasionally will imitate some of these ideas (which I don't think he would have had on his own...)

Rachael said...

Annie, I hardly know what to say. I can't even imagine how emotionally draining this must be! You poor dear.

I want to tell you that it SEEMS that the healthiest thing to do for all involved would be to break ties - even if it's just a 1 or 2 or 3 month time-out and then reassess. But, who knows. It's hard to tell from snippets. And you're probably not looking for advice anyway, just encouragement. But IF I were doling out advice, I'd WANT to tell you RUN, RUN, RUN from him and heal yourself and your family.

Tina in CT said...

Look at what you just wrote about Sergei. Maxim is a bad example.

I agree with Susan's comment about a restraining order.

Don't let him back in contact. What if he went crazy? Look at all the murders, etc. going on around us. He sounds like a time bomb waiting to happen.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Dang, that is a mess alright.
It sounds like he is manipulating a major case of push- pull with both families. He is triangulating you all. Having a lot of good reasons to be a messed up kid doesnt make it ok to be threatening towards anyone and fwiw, it does sound like he is escalating in the boundaries he is willing to break through. However, he lived with you as your son for several years and that is not an easy tie to break. You are the only one who can decide if that needs to happen. It is usually more a good thing than a bad thing to keep in contact but maybe in this case it is causing more harm.
If I may suggest, possibly you have not cleaned up your dresser because the Maxim chapter is not finished. I would guess that the damage is so emotional to you that you need to be done with with the whole process before you can "put the pieces back together". It may be too hard for you to face it while you are still facing him every other day.
Sorry this has become so difficult for you all. I hope it gets better soon!

Christine said...

I ditto what Tina said. Big hugs.

Milena said...

I agree with Tina. He may be broken inside, but before he makes ireparable damage to your family or your property, or heaven forbid hurt your children!, break all ties.

Take care of yourself and your family!

kate said...

I'm with Essie. Every bit of what she said.

I pray for strength and peace for you today, Annie.

Jojo, Julz, Julianne said...

Oh Annie. This is when I wish my blogger friends were RL friends. I hate the thought of your head on that stearing wheel.
Maybe you and the other family can chat and set up a designated time for you to be with Maxim. Once every other week. Maybe only at his games. Maybe at the other house. It seems when you are alone, he gets the chance to play both sides against the middle. And as for the smoking...You are giving him the most special gift. Never ever buy him cigarettes.It is a horrible thing to quit, and if he is 1 day clear of smoking, you don't want to start him up again. Honestly, I know about this!
I wish you would bring your kids to visit the DC area. I would show you all the sites, and you could come see my new townhouse!

You need a little get away!!!!
Hugs to you!

Nora said...

Annie, it almost seems like Maxim is practicing at a future of being an abusive boyfriend/husband with you in the unlucky female place holder. You've been *so* good to him and offered him a loving home and this behavior of his is just chilling in its pattern of abuse/apology/abuse/etc...

No good can come to your family with Maxim acting out this way, and most importantly YOU need to break away from his abusive behavior. Maybe if you take that stand, it will "shock" him into opening his eyes as to what behavior is simply not ever acceptable.

I love you sweetie. Stay strong.

Lea said...

Annie, I am so sorry Maxim has treated you this way. I know how hard it is, but my humble opinion is that you need to talk with his new family and break all ties with him. He sounds like he might be getting dangerous and this could not only affect you but your other children. Does he have a key to your home? If so, change the locks.
As a former foster mom, I have had to change the locks, garage door keypad code, and my home phone number. You never know when you might come home and he has "cleaned" your house out.
Feeling your pain...
Lea Ann